At Dalriata, we like to bring you unusual and interesting things from Ireland, Scotland and around the UK. We try to feature great products from smaller, independent manufacturers – stuff we don’t think you’ll find anywhere else. But we’re only human, and some products are massively popular just because they’re really good. Such as the beloved McVitie’s Penguin!
What is a McVitie’s Penguin?
Penguin biscuits have been around since 1932. They originate from Glasgow, but nowadays they’re manufactured in Stockport in England. After all this time, they’ve become ubiquitous, an ever-present component of every teatime. It’s hard to overstate the popularity of the Penguin – McVitie’s have claimed in the past that they make 40,000 biscuits a minute. The everyday familiarity of the Penguin means it’s a great standard against which all other chocolate biscuits can be judged – if it’s more luxurious than a Penguin, it’s definitely fancy.
At a superficial level, the McVitie’s Penguin biscuit shares many similarities with another time-honoured favourite, the Jacob’s Club Milk. Both consist of two layers of biscuit with a cocoa cream filling in between, coated in chocolate. Indeed, you’ll find the two biscuits side by side on many a plate whenever tea is being served. But in reality they’re very different. For one thing, the biscuits in Penguins are malted. For another, the chocolate coating is much thinner. In fact the whole thing’s a lot like a bourbon cream dipped in chocolate. But don’t be fooled – it’s subtly different. The biscuit is less dense than a bourbon cream, and the cocoa cream filling is much lighter and softer, so as to contrast with the chocolate coating.
But it’s not useful to over-analyse the McVitie’s Penguin, as this is definitely a case of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. Having said that, lots of people seem to enjoy eating Penguins by meticulously taking them apart, layer by layer… But that’s OK, go ahead, we’re not here to judge you!
What about Tim Tams?
Of course, we can’t write about Penguins without mentioning the Tim Tam. First made in 1964, the Tim Tam has become an Australian cultural icon, universally beloved in its homeland. Aussies revere the things, and it can be confusing and a little disappointing for British folks when they finally get to try the legendary Tim Tam and find out that it’s almost indistinguishable from a Penguin. Indeed, the creators of the Tim Tam were inspired by the British original, and this is obvious from the first bite. There are small differences between the two, but if you’re an Aussie missing the taste of Tim Tams, Penguins are a more than acceptable substitute. Don’t hesitate, buy some today and scratch that itch!