For the working class masses – adults and children – dunking a biscuit in your tea is quite normal. I won't cover here dunking other things into other drinks, such as doughnuts into coffee, as that's simply not part of British culture.
Dunking in a hot drink releases up to 10 times more flavour than from a dry biscuit. Dunking can also melt chocolate on biscuits to create new rich flavours. I know this because McVitie's, the biscuit manufacturer, got a team of Bristol University scientists to conduct some proper research at the Centre for Imbibing and Infusion Studies. This was summed up nicely by the BBC in 2008 (as scientific research papers are not the easiest to digest). McVitie's also discovered that one-in-four dunks results in a soggy biscuit sinking to the bottom of the mug.
Men seem much more capable of seeing a daft idea through to the end. A sensible/mundane idea such as food shopping or housework is not an exciting enough challenge. But carrying a fridge around Ireland (thank you Tony Hawks) or walking the length of every London Underground line at street level (thank you Mark Mason) suits them well.
It does mean when I mildly contemplated doing a 'best biscuit to dunk' test I found a man had already beaten me to it. (And yes, the Bristol scientists were chaps too.) Doctor Stu is a science writer and teacher and so has access to all those things we had in the school science classrooms (Bunsen burners were not needed though). His basic research – he asked colleagues – revealed that 9 out of 10 of us dunk while at work which is why he continued with the experiments comparing a Hobnob, gingernut, custard cream, chocolate digestive and a Rich Tea. Do enjoy his fantastic video evidence.
While Doctor Stu got great results from a Rich Tea biscuit, this researcher would like them to be called "One Dips" from now on in honour of Peter Kay's words about them. As an aside, Rich Teas were originally called Tea Biscuits and were created in Yorkshire in the 17th century. Back then they were designed as a light snack between meals and were eaten by the upper-classes.
The Telegraph reported chocolate digestives are the best because of their coating which protects them from the effects of the hot tea.
Many other regular dunkers have reported excellent results from gingernuts.
For further research I can recommend following @villeroybochuk as they run a weekly dunk off called #teatimetuesday. I'll certainly be tuning in regularly.
A Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down is a rather wonderful website which includes this handy check list for recognising biscuits:
- They come in packets
- They have two sides
- You could dunk them in tea
Australians enjoy a Tim Tam Slam. Basically, it's a chocolate biscuit rather like a Penguin which you bite the short ends off and then use as a straw with your hot drink. As it starts to melt you pop the whole thing in your mouth.
Dunker Gift Ideas
As well as the obvious tea and biscuits, I've stumbled upon a few great gift ideas including the Top Dunks mug and How to Dunk a Doughnut: The Science of Everyday Life.
Let's get our own results. Click on the SURVEY HERE and let the world know your dunking biscuit of choice. (Note, I haven't worked out how to get the survey to display the results but I'll update this post in a few weeks with the findings.)
Image: (c) Mooganic