The digestive biscuit, a staple of the wonderfully bland British cuisine, is a circular, semi-sweet cookie really having nothing to do with digestion at all*. Many brands exist and to the common person, all brands probably taste alike. Being a fan of this delectable treat, I thought it might be fun to choose an array of brands and taste test them. So, I headed down to my local ASDA and selected four different brands for taste testing. The brands I selected are as follows: ASDA Brand, McVitie’s, Dove’s Farm, and Crawford’s.

In each section, I include some basic information on the company, followed by the review which includes the ingredients and nutritional information of the biscuit along with ratings based on the following criteria:
  • Durability: In this category, I tested how well they resisted being broken in half and how many crumbs they produced upon breaking. I also judged how well and how quickly they absorbed Earl Grey tea after being submerged for exactly ten seconds.
  • Look 'n' Feel: Here, I gave each biscuit a rating based on its color, shape, and design.
  • Taste: In this category, I judged how well the biscuit in question tasted while dry and while soaked with the Earl Grey tea from the previous test.
On a side note, for those who are against consuming animal products, all are labelled as suitable for vegetarians (although McVitie’s contains “cultured skimmed milk”), so you needn’t fear accidentally consuming a cow or anything.

ASDA Brand Sweetmeal Digestive Biscuits
This is a store brand with a wide array of biscuit/cookie products. As with all store brands, the quality may not be the best, but the price almost always is.
Guarantee: “200% ASDA Brand Guarantee” (whatever that’s supposed to mean).
Ingredients: wheat flour, wholemeal flour, vegetable fat, sugar, oatmeal flour, vegetarian whey powder, raising agents (sodium bicarbonate, ammonium carbonates), invert sugar syrup, salt.
Nutritional Information (per 100g): Calories: 499; Protein: 7g; Carbohydrates: 66g; Fat: 23g
  • Durability: 7
    While fairly thick, it did produce a few medium sized crumbs, just missing the eating-in-bed mark. However, I must say its tea-absorption ability was perfect, being not too dry, yet not too soggy after dunking.
  • Look 'n' Feel: 6
    With a light brown color and a round shape, it is punctured with an array of uniformly placed holes and labelled with “Sweetmeal Digestive” on the front. I didn’t find this very inventive. It also felt greasy to the touch, which I did not find pleasant at all.
  • Taste: 6
    This had a sweet, slightly heavier taste to it, which wasn’t too bad. But I could also feel and taste the fat, a quality I could do without.
McVitie’s Wheatmeal Digestive Biscuits
”The original digestive
This company claims to be the “leading manufacturer of biscuits in the UK,” and it doesn’t surprise me considering the amount of biscuit-like products they produce. Not only do they produce a large variety of digestive biscuits (coming in plain, tea, chocolate, and caramel flavors), but they also produce a variety of cheese crackers, a line of “healthy” foods dubbed “Go Ahead”, and a variety of chocolate biscuit bars. A few of their notable products are Jaffa Cakes (which sell three times better when packaged in vertically standing tubes) and the Penguin bar (which is second to Kit-Kat in sales in the chocolate biscuit bar category). McVitie’s is a child company of United Biscuits.
Guarantee: We take every care to ensure these biscuits reach you in perfect condition. If they fail to satisfy, please return the complete package to our Consumer Relations Department at McVitie’s, saying when and where purchased.
Ingredients: wheat flour, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, sugar, wholemeal, cultured skimmed milk, partially inverted sugar syrup, raising agents (sodium bicarbonate, tartaric acid, malic acid), salt.
Nutritional Information (per 100g): Calories: 496; Protein: 7g; Carbohydrates: 67.5g; Fat: 21.9g
  • Durability: 6
    This cookie was fairly thick as well, but produced more crumbs than ASDA Brand did on a break. But I found its tea absorption ability excellent.
  • Look 'n' Feel: 7
    Along with a handful of small holes scattered across the surface, it had an eye-pleasing picture of a stalk of wheat (or something like that) above the words, “McVitie’s The Original”. Pretty pictures in any context are always a plus.
  • Taste: 9
    The bland taste of the biscuit helped to amplify the subtle flavor of the tea, making it superb for tea dunking.
Dove’s Farm Organic Wholewheat Digestives
”The Dove’s the Difference.”
Dove’s Farm makes a variety of biscuit snacks, cereals, and flours, all of which are made with organically grown ingredients. They have over 25 years of organic farming experience and do not support the use of genetically modified crops.
Guarantee: Baked with UK Wheat and non hydrogenated fat; nut-free.
Ingredients: wholewheat flour 62%, palm fat, sugar, barely malt extract, raising agent (sodium bicarbonate, ammonium bicarbonate), salt.
Nutritional Information (per 100g): Calories: 390; Protein: 5.6g; Carbohydrates: 54.2g; Fat: 16.8g
  • Durability: 8
    This biscuit is a bit thicker and smaller than the rest. It’s also tougher to break, and when broken, produces smaller crumbs, a definite plus. It absorbs tea well, but takes much longer to absorb a significant amount of tea, a slight minus.
  • Look 'n' Feel: 10
    Speckled with various shades of brown and decorated with a picture of a dove amidst the words “Dove’s Farm Organic,” it’s definitely the best looking biscuit I’ve seen.
  • Taste: 8
    It has a nice wheaty taste and texture to it, which is great for eating alone. But because of its strong taste and lengthy absorption time, I wouldn’t classify it as tea dunking worthy.
Crawford’s Thin Arrowroot Biscuits
”Baking family biscuits since 1813.”
Although I don’t think this brand is technically a “digestive” biscuit, I included it anyway. Please refrain from tomato throwing**. Crawford’s is a child company of McVitie’s.
Guarantee: We take every care to ensure these Crawford’s biscuits reach you in perfect condition. If they fail to satisfy, please return the complete package to our Consumer Relations Department at the address shown, saying when and where purchased.
Ingredients: wheat flour, sugar, partically hydrogenated vegetable oil, arrowroot (2%), partially inverted sugar syrup, malt extract, salt, raising agents (sodium bicarbonate, ammonium bicarbonate).
Nutritional Information (per 100g): Calories: 472; Protein: 7.1g; Carbohydrates: 76.7g; Fat: 15.2g
  • Durability: 5
    It’s the thinnest and most speedily absorbent cookie of the bunch. After about 8 seconds of being submerged, it ended up breaking off and falling into my tea, which is a huge minus in my book.
  • Look ’n’ Feel: 8
    The color of the cookie is quite bland, being uniformly light beige on both sides. Although, instead of being completely round, its edges are “bubbled”, I guess you could say, which is unique. Its surface is also really smooth, so you don’t get tiny crumbs that stick to your fingers when handling like with the other biscuits.
  • Taste: 7
    This one has a lighter, slightly sweet taste to it, resembling that of animal crackers. Good for eating if you’re not that hungry.
Final conclusions? ASDA Brand is a very versatile biscuit with decent overall qualities, but the slight greasiness of the biscuit does not hold well with me. I would say McVitie’s wins the award for tea dunking, since its bland taste helps to accent the tea flavor. With an interesting wheaty taste, Dove’s Farm is best if you have no tea at hand and need to eat it dry. Being smaller and thinner than the rest, Crawford’s is nice for a light snack. So, make your decision and eat up! Time is biscuit-eating!

Some other brands of biscuit-like products include: Corrections (2 June 2004):
* yclept has informed me that they indeed do have something to do with digestion. Their lack of strong sweetness and oiliness helps to make them easily digestable.
** yclept has also informed me that arrowroot is well known for its digestability. The arrowroot node by peanut also says this. Therefore, Crawford's Arrowroot Biscuits can indeed be classified as digestive biscuits. My bad indeed.

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