I’ve got a friend who has an on-site van at the Sunset Caravan Park in Woolgoolga, the town the locals call “Woopie”.
Woopie is famous for its Sikhs and for its massive Sikh temple and its frozen berry industry, but when I think of Woopie I think of one thing. You know Jatz crackers? They don’t call them Jatz crackers there – they call them “Savoys”. Savoys! I know!! A savoy is a fucking sausage!!!
Why such a small thing should affect my sense of balance in such a way is totally baffling, but affect me but it does. If I’d bought a box that was packaged completely differently and they were called Bazookas or something and then when I opened them up and found they were just plain old Jatz I’d’ve been a bit meh. I’d have gotten over it. But when everything else is just how you expect it to be yet there’s this wee tweak, it sets a man back on his heels.
Nearly all the big brands that you can get at Coles and Woolworths back in Big Town you can get at Khan’s IGA, Lightning Ridge. But there is something you should know: the Ridge is differently biscuited.
Griffin’s Biscuits, to be precise. When I first saw them on the shelf I was a bit like woah! What do we have here? I do not know you.
From whence do they come, these Griffin’s biscuit people? I’ve never heard of them, and I’ve lived in Australia for 30 years.
To my credit, I steadied myself and accepted the challenge. I picked a packet from the shelf and set to the job of working my way through their moderately extensive range, a packet per week for however many weeks it might take.
First up was the “Chit Chat” (note jolly quote marks), which appears to be the freckly love-child of a TimTam and an English Penguin biscuit. It was alright, but I must admit to feeling slightly underwhelmed. The biscuit part was fine but the chocolate had that plasticky taste about it, if you know what I mean.
Next up was the Afghans (no cheerful quote marks for these guys). The picture on the packet doesn’t do them justice; in a remarkable visual pun each biscuit actually looks like a tiny turban! How cute is that?
I realise that this is the kind of comment that would have my kids rolling their eyes and accusing me of racism, but (like many racists) I don’t mean to be. Hopefully it’s the benign non-aggressive form of racism that, as Louis CK points out, we all caught simply by growing up in the Seventies. Sorry, Afghans!
Anyway, Afghans (the biscuity type) are (again) alright. I think I’d built my hopes up and – for no good reason, it’s not on the label – expected maybe some toffee in there underneath the turbany bit, but no luck.
The other Saturday I found myself caught between the Squiggles, the Mallow Puffs and the Krispie, but none of them were doing it for me. When I was a lad, the term “top shelf” was usually reserved for the row of nudie magazines at the paper shop, and so anything where I have to make an effort and reach up high has always made me think it’s a bit wahey, a bit sexually charged. Even biscuits. It reminds me of the thrill of pretending to leaf through this month’s Electronics Now! or Trout Angler while peaking longingly at Readers’ Wives and Penthouse.
So top shelf it was: Jaffa Thins. Phwoar.
Well, I’m sad to report that the Jaffa Thin is … alright. As a biscuit it’s, well, thin. And vaguely jaffa-ery. But you have to eat about a dozen of them to get the same feeling of one Scotch Finger.
I did some research. Where are they from, these Griffin’s biscuits? Mount Isa? Gullargambone? Tennant Creek?
Noooooo! Griffin’s are actually a Kiwi company! Could it really be true that, as their website claims:
Our biscuit factory is located in Papakura and a savoury/wrapped snacks factory in Wiri.
I was set back on my heels again. With this devastating news I decided that I could no longer support Griffin’s Biscuits. Just think of the food miles to get a packet of Afghans from Wiri to the Ridge! I’ll stick to Arnotts from now on as I do have standards.
“Alright” is simply not all right.