It's National Biscuit Day this month, but how much do you know about one of our favourite sweet treats?

The team at McVitie’s have shared 28 surprising and entertaining facts about biscuits and the brand in honour of National Biscuit Day.

National Biscuit Day falls on the 29 May and is a celebration of the history of the humble biscuit. With this in mind McVitie’s have shared these facts that you might not know about the brand plus some surprising numbers about our love of biscuits.

Biscuit facts

As studies show a rise in elevenses and tea-time occasions as a result of being in lockdown with friends and family, 40 per cent of Brits have said they’ve been enjoying more biscuits during this time.

British biscuit consumption is the highest in the world, higher than all major European countries and even 35 per cent higher than the US.

Biscuits are bought by 27 million households and eaten on 6 billion occasions a year.

61 per cent of the UK have a biscuit tin, with the city of Norwich the biggest fans of biscuit tins.

Biscuits were the first food to reach the South Pole with the explorer Roald Amundsen in 1911.

If you laid all the Jaffa Cakes eaten each year in a line, they would stretch from the UK to Australia and back.

McVitie’s through the ages

McVitie’s has been at the cornerstone of British life for over 180 years. Here are some interesting facts about the brand and its well-known biscuits.

It started with a Scot

The McVitie’s story began in 1839 – a Scottish apprentice baker named Robert McVitie established a very successful bakery business (McVitie’s and Price) with his father, William, on Rose Street in Edinburgh.

The secret recipe

In 1892, Sir Alexander Grant began working for the McVitie and Price’s firm and created the first original McVitie’s Digestives – his secret recipe is still used today.

First World War

During the First World War, McVitie’s was called on by the government to use its knowledge and production facilities to supply ‘iron ration’ plain biscuits and opened a new bakery in Manchester to satisfy demand.

Reduction in varieties 

The rigours of wartime left their mark on the business and the 370 varieties of biscuits and cakes which were produced in 1939 were reduced to 10 in 1945 – most of which are still on sale today.

McVitie’s biscuits

Hobnob crazy

The iconic brand Hobnobs was launched by McVitie’s in 1985. Huge demand for the original variety led to the introduction of the chocolate variety in 1987.

The health idea behind digestives

As original McVitie’s Digestives are made with baking soda, it was previously thought that they would help with digestion, hence the name.

Quick bake

It takes seven minutes to perfectly bake an original McVitie’s Digestive biscuit.

The Jaffa Cake debate

There has been a long debate throughout history whether Jaffa Cakes are classified as a biscuit or cake. So much so that it was part of a VAT tribunal in 1991, with the court finding in McVitie’s favour that the Jaffa Cakes should be considered a cake for tax purposes.

Ginger Nuts can cure sickness

Ginger Nuts are traditionally thought of as a great cure for morning sickness and sea sickness.

Celebrity fans

National Biscuit Day

The Queen is said to be a Rich Tea fan. Picture: Shutterstock

Royal approval

The Queen is an avid Rich Tea fan and enjoys a pot of freshly brewed Earl Grey alongside a few Rich Tea biscuits before breakfast. Her favourite tea cake is the chocolate biscuit cake, which includes eight ounces of Rich Tea biscuits.

Pick up a Penguin

As a child, Dua Lipa’s mum packed her lunchbox with her favourite biscuit – Penguin Bars.

London calling

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London’s favourite biscuit is the Chocolate Hobnob.

Boris Johnson announced on Mumsnet that his favourite biscuits are Chocolate Digestives.

Cheese and biscuits

Davina McCall has been known to treat herself to original Digestives with Camembert.

Royal wedding

In March 2011, it was announced that Prince William had chosen a groom’s cake for his wedding reception, made from 1,700 McVitie’s Rich Tea biscuits and 17 kg of chocolate.

Exclusive fan club

McVitie’s has an exclusive Biscuit Club for celebrity fans, from Sarah Jessica Parker to Joey Essex – members are the lucky receivers of a rare golden Digestives biscuit.

Britain’s biscuit craze

Brits love a biscuits, here’s exactly how much.

On average, Brits buy 500 biscuits per year.

Chocolate Digestives continues to reign supreme as a fan-favourite, with a third of Brits ranking it as their all-time favourite McVitie’s biscuit.

The UK is a nation filled with biscuit-lovers, with over half the nation (53%) professing their love for the humble biscuit.

According to McVitie’s, the chocolate side of Milk Chocolate Digestives is actually on the bottom of the biscuit.

56 million packets of Original McVitie’s Digestives are sold every year.

Biscuit dunking facts

McVitie’s food scientist, Dr. Farrimond scientifically proved the best biscuits for dunking and here are his results:

Rich Tea: Fourteen dunks

Chocolate Digestives: Eight dunks

Original McVitie’s Digestives: Two dunks

Hobnobs: Two dunks

Ginger Nut: Two dunks

Dr. Farrimond found letting a cuppa cool for three minutes before dunking, gives each biscuit more chance of surviving the dip and doubled the dunking time before it collapsed.

Hobnobs are only suitable for short dunks because it is an oat-based biscuit, so the larger oat particles provide less structural strength to the biscuit.

45 degrees is the perfect dunking angle according to Dr. Farrimond.

The record for the highest biscuit dunk was set in 2016 with a 73.41 metres (240 ft. 10 in) high bungee dunk with McVitie’s Chocolate Hobnobs.

Chocolate coatings form a barrier around the biscuit when dunking and hold it together when it would otherwise break.

Research from McVitie’s revealed the dunking habits of Brits – showing a surge in popularity of dunking amongst younger generations, with nearly 20 per cent more young people dunking now than people aged over 55.

Bee Berrie recipe: Pretty nice biscuits

About The Author

Rosalind Erskine

Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind writes for The Scotsman on all things food and drink related.

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