The Biscuiteer: Milk Chocolate Wheaten
Milk Chocolate Wheaten
Manufactured by: Arnott’s
It seems sacrilegious to think of “Arnott’s Chocolate Wheaten” when this brand of chocolate digestive biscuit used to belong so unequivocally to George Weston Foods. Sadly, in 2003 Weston sold its cakes and biscuits division – also including the iconic Wagon Wheel brand – to Arnott’s, despite speculation at the time that the purchase by the category market leader would cause objections to the ACCC.
The loss of Weston’s from the Australian fast-moving consumer goods landscape also meant the loss of its iconic biscuit factory in Sydney’s Camperdown. Ahead of the factory’s shutdown, it was documented by photographers Peter Campbell and Murray Fredericks in the exhibition The Biscuit Factory. Being valuable inner-urban property, the site was predictably developed into loft and terrace apartments, which architects Marchese + Partners hoped would become “Sydney’s new Soho district”.
Which brings us to the contemporary biscuit, which Arnott’s bills as combining “the crunchy texture and goodness of wheat with the superb taste of smooth, milk chocolate”. Thankfully they’ve also retained the familiar slogan “Choc Full of Wheat!” Large, round, sweet and relatively plain, biscuits containing wholewheat flour used to be believed to aid in digestion; in this oddly puritan approach to snacking, the chocolate version is positively decadent. In Notes From A Small Country, Bill Bryson observed that only a nation so easy to please as Britain could have conceived such a masterpiece as the chocolate digestive:
It is the most extraordinary thing. They actually like their pleasures small. That is why, I suppose, so many of their treats – teacakes, scones, crumpets, rock cakes, Rich Tea biscuits, fruit Shrewsburys – are so cautiously flavourful.
I completely agree with Bryson. The Chocolate Wheaten is a giant among biscuits; it allows you to feel simultaneously decadent and healthy. When I was a kid, Chocolate Wheaten was the compromise biscuit: it satisfied us kids (because of the chocolate) and my mother (because of the wheat). I picked the Milk Chocolate version because I happen to prefer milk chocolate, but the father of a friend of mine has been known to plump for the Dark Chocolate version because “dark chocolate is healthier”.
As it happens, the wheat doesn’t taste onerously chaff-like, the way plain biscuits can. It merely has a pleasant texture (unlike the relentlessly anodyne smoothness of the Milk Arrowroot). And the chocolate has a nubby texture evocative of having been drizzled luxuriously across the biscuit in two directions. Who knows how they’re actually made, but I always imagine fast-food commercial clichés: a black background, sumptuous close-ups and a pre-orgasmic female voiceover: “We take fresh, wheaty biscuits… smother them in rich, creamy chocolate…”
Digestive biscuits are just made for dipping, and the advantage of the chocolate covering is twofold: it holds the biscuit together so it doesn’t descend, Titanic-style, to the bottom of your teacup; and it softens the chocolate so it melts delectably upon your tongue. These biscuits are also terribly moreish – I finished off the packet in a few days. Bear in mind, however, that I drink vast quantities of tea.
All up, an excellent biscuit! Good enough for everyday consumption, but not too dull to put on a plate when friends come over for a cuppa. However, points do come off for the fact that buying them now means contributing to the Arnott’s behemoth.
No related story.