The Slam Files

Well, everybody's heard about the Tim-Tam Slam (T-T-T-Tim-Tam slam, slam is the, er, word). There are precious few good things to have come out of Australia, but this is one of them - a genius combination of eating a chocolate biscuit and drinking tea or coffee (or similar), which is more or less like what downing chunky chocolate-and-caffeine soup would be like if that wasn't an intrinsically horrible idea.

But! You can't get Tim-Tams in the UK. Well, actually, you can now, but you shouldn't - Tim-Tams are an Australian biscuit, for Australian people, and to eat them over here, except as an occasional foray into exotic foreign food, is simply wrong. Rather, patriotic Britons must practice slammage using our trusty British biscuits, safeguarding our national biscuit heritage for future generations.

So, which British biscuits are useful for the slam-happy Brit? Shockingly, there is precious little information publically available on this vital topic - a deficit which this page attempts to put right. Here, i will attempt to catalogue the suitability of all known biscuits for getting your slam on. If you have information on further biscuits, or conflicting information about the biscuits already listed, i implore you to contact me at twic@urchin.earth.li.

Biscuit (Manufacturer) Notes Slam Rating
Tim-Tam (Arnott's) The definitive slam biscuit; i include it here purely as a positive control. * * *
Penguin (McVities) The most obvious substitute for a Tim-Tam, due to its broadly similar construction. However, appearances are deceptive: a crucial element in the Tim-Tam's slammability is the light, honeycombish texture of its biscuit, whose porosity makes it an ideal edible drinnking straw. The Penguin's biscuit is nothing at all like this - a Penguin, after all, is basically a chocolate-coated Bourbon - and is only barely capable of carrying the beverage. That said, through-biscuit flow is only one element of slam dynamics; whilst this pathway is important early in the slam, it's the biscuit's response to soaking in hot beverage that governs the later phase. Here, the Penguin excels, its buttercream filling quickly melting away to leave a virtually obstacle-free route for the beverage, precisely as in a Tim-Tam. So, a dodgy start, but a great finish. * 1/2
Finger (Cadbury's) Perhaps a surprising entry in the list, but the humble finger is in fact a solid and reliable instrument of slammism. Indeed, with its simplicity of form - a cylinder of biscuit, finely balanced between the devil of inadequate porosity and the deep blue sea of slam-aborting fragility, wrapped in a modest but even layer of chocolate - it mimics a drinking straw as well as could be desired. For a biscuit. The normal finger's obvious failing is its diminutive size; it's not long enough to reliably keep your nose out of the beverage, nor wide enough to sustain a satisfying flow rate. The giant finger, however, remedies these shortcomings admirably. * 1/2
Twix (Mars) Inexplicably, a generally overlooked slamming biscuit, despite its comprehensively excellent performance. The Twix has all the desirable properties of a giant Finger, plus a reinforcing spine of toffee which allows it to maintain structural integrity long past the point when a Finger would be so much sludge in the bottom of your mug. Whilst the toffee does nothing to prolong the beverage-flow phase, which ends when the chocolate coating suffers terminal melt-through, it does mean that in the crucial post-slurp phase, when the biscuit has to be transferred to the mouth, the Twix can hold it together when many biscuits would literally go to pieces. The Twix also affords some flexibility - its length is sufficient that it can be broken in two, for two quick slams, as the user desires; a king-size Twix could potentially even be broken in three. Lastly, the toffee makes an excellent flavour combination with the chocolate and coffee (haven't tried it with tea). All in all, a superb slam - perhaps even rivalling the Tim-Tam. * * 1/2
Kit Kat (Nestlé) You might imagine that a Kit Kat, with its broad core of permeable wafer and shell of trademark high-melting-point Nestlé chocolate, would be an excellent slampty - even the name echoes that of the Australian slam king! It is not. I haven't yet worked out why not, but i can tell you that it just doesn't work - you get a tiny sip of beverage, then it stops. This failure mode points to heat-induced above-the-waterline loss of chocolate integrity, but detailed analysis has yet to be carried out. A Kit Kat Chunky might be worth a go, but you'd need to have a bloody big mouth. Note: 'Suzy' reckons Kit Kats are 'fairly good'; maybe i just had a dodgy batch. 1/2
Rocky (Fox's) - link is to 'Chocomania' variant According to 'Suzy', 'an excellent success'. In my hands (and mouth), fair to middling. The Rocky is a broad, flattish chunk of Fox's standard honeycomb biscuit, coated with a decent layer of chocolate. However, the layer is very much thinner on the bottom than on the sides, and, like the Leopard-2 main battle tank, this is its crucial flaw - the bottom melts through just seconds into the slam, collapsing the drink tube entirely, even though the sides and top are still, as the name boasts, rock-solid. This poor balance is an all but crippling weakness; if the bottom was on a par with the impressively thick coating on the other surfaces, then, combined with the excellent properties of the biscuit, this would be a slamplifier par excellence. * 1/2
Classic (Fox's) I haven't tried this, or heard of anyone trying it, but logic dictates that this should be a high-performance slaminator: the layout of a Classic, with two slabs of light, crisp biscuit, separated by buttercream and wrapped in chocolate, is uncannily similar to that of a Tim-Tam. However, there are numerous potential flaws: is it too big? Is the biscuit too uneven, and so not sufficiently porous? Is the melting point of the chocolate too low, leading to early collapse? Will the oatmeal and coconut notes in the biscuit synergise with or antagonise the taste of the beverage? We must find out! ?
Chocolate Digestive (McVities + generic) How would that even work? 0
Jaffa Cake Bar (McVitie's) "What? What?" i hear you cry; "It's not even a biscuit!". Well, no, but join me in thinking outside the tin. A jaffa cake bar is an elongated cuboid of light, spongy cake, with a layer of, er, jaffa on one side, coated in chocolate; this structure has a strong formal resemblance to that of a Twix or Rocky, on which basis we might speculate that it would make a reasonable slamalgam. They elephant in the room, of course, is the nature of the materials: cake is far softer than biscuit, and often less porous, whilst the chocolate is merely a coating, rather than a shell. Would it really hold together? The answer is 'sort of'. The lightness of the cake means it's porous enough to slam with - the hydrodynamics side of the equation is really quite good. The mechanics, though, are not as strong (if you'll excuse the pun); the cake collapses very quickly, and the chocolate doesn't do much to hold it together, although the jaffa helps. An effective, very short, but quite interesting slam. *
Gold (McVitie's) For such a simple biscuit, this works surprisingly well. The biscuit core is dense, but dissolves rapidly. Meanwhile, the "unique gold coating" holds up well against the heat. The coating is composed of palm oil, sugar, and dried milk; palm oil has about the same melting temperature as cocoa butter, so it's not clear why it would hold up better than chocolate. Either it's the sugar-milk filler, or simply the thickness of the coating. **

A few random slam notes: