It’s a bank holiday and I’m off work so I’m reading about biscuits.
Specifically, I reading about the sad closure on Friday last of the Jacobs factory in Tallaght, the home of the fancy biscuits.
Now, the notion of the ‘good biscuits’ must surely be an Irish thing. In our house when we were kids, Mam made a big effort to hide the good biscuits, leaving the ‘plain’ biscuits in plain view. Of course over time, all the hiding places were found and it became a sort of game I think, particularly around Christmas time, when good biscuits, and fizzy drinks (or ‘minerals’) were hoarded in preparation for the feasting. The crime of the season would be discovered when a tin of biscuits was ceremonially opened at the proper time only for the shock to register made that a villainous sugar addict had already been there.
In a house of seven that required the safe-cracking skills of Oceans Eleven and an impossible-to-find long period of time alone. This was the case because pulling off and then replacing the damned sellotape that held the lid was near impossible. We five boys would all look at each other as Mam raved on, each one feeling Catholic guilt even though we all knew it was dad who did it and he was keeping quiet. The sins of the fathers, alas.
Anyway, in the grim Irish days of the 70s the favourite and quintessentially Irish biscuits were Jacobs. We all puzzled over how they got the figs into the fig rolls. And everyone over a certain age will remember the ditty,
Kimberley, Mikado and Coconut Creams, someone you love, will love some Mum!
The sainted Maureen Potter and her three puppets, Kimberly the cowboy, coconut cream, the little girl and Mikado, a comedy Chinese character – go figure!
These were strange fluffy confections that had the cachet of caviar in an Irish home. A tin of these at Christmas was prized like gold and rationed out to us kids like sausages during the war. My favourite was Mikado, the 1970s Irish notion of exotic Eastern mystery. I would trail off the pink, coconut- dusted mallow, first one, then the other, before licking the raspberry jam.
Anyway, they’ll no longer be made in Tallaght and in time no longer in Ireland at all. That said, a new marketing campaign has led to a surge in consumption. You can now become a fan on FaceBook, you can follow them on twitter, they have motion sensitive ads in some places, throwing the song at you as you pass the sign, though Mum has been dropped from the jingle because it’s supposed to be sexist or something. And you can even even add your own slogan here and win your weight in the biscuits.
And now, as an act of solidarity and nostalgia, I have a tin of chocolate covered kimberley, a frankensteinian subspecies, and part of the ‘elite’ range, unopened from Christmas, and a gift from my parents. I intend to wrestle with the tape round the lid, and heaven help them if those kids of mine…..
PS if the old ad stirred some memories, check out this place for the 10 best Irish TV ads from the past.