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Taking the biscuit: What Northern Ireland celebs like to dunk in their tea


Lynda Bryans

Lynda Bryans

Stephen Clements

Stephen Clements


Lynda Bryans

The results are in and it's official - a nationwide survey has declared that the biscuit that reminds us most of our childhood is the mighty Wagon Wheel.

Children's charity Dreams Come True have conducted a survey across the UK to discover the country's most nostalgic nibble, with Wagon Wheels winning the vote, as it made a resounding 43% of the population think fondly of yesteryear.

The survey also broke down the results by region, with the chocolate-covered treats also considered the top treat in Northern Ireland, swiftly followed by Jammie Dodgers, Tunnock's Teacakes and that old favourite, the Jaffa Cake.

Dreams Come True, which helps terminally and seriously ill children and young people to realise their ambitions, conducted the survey to help launch the Dream Tea campaign, which encourages friends and family to come together over tea and cake to raise money for the charity. Ahead of the campaign in June we asked local celebrities about their favourite biscuits and why they remind them of their childhood years.

Johnny Hero (54) is a presenter for the U105 radio station. He lives in Belfast with his wife Lisa and their children, Rebecca (13) and John (12). He says:

The biscuit from childhood that I remember most are Bourbon Creams - you used to get them in those big biscuit assortment tins. We used to fight over them in our house because they looked like dog biscuits and we wanted to pretend we were eating one.

In the studio we take turns bringing the biscuits in for the tea and it's hard to beat a double-chocolate Digestive. The new kids on the block of biscuits these days are the ones that come from chocolate bars - Crunchies and Dairy Milk - but as soon as you turn your back, they're gone."

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Sarah Clarke (34) is a presenter and newsreader for UTV. She lives in Belfast with her husband Rory and their children, Daniel (3) and Emily (1). She says:

At this very moment I have a small pack of Jaffa Cakes in my bag as a treat for later. When I was young, though, I loved Tunnock's Teacakes and Jammie Dodgers, which my son now loves, too.

I associate biscuits with break-time because your mum would always give you a biscuit for that, and for me it was a Club Orange.

That doesn't happen anymore, though, as kids aren't allowed anything like chocolate biscuits, or even juice. I still think it's okay for kids to have a wee treat every now and again, however."

Stephen Clements (41) presents the Breakfast Show on Citybeat radio on weekday mornings. He lives in Newtownards with his wife Natasha and their children, Poppy (4) and Robbie (3 months). He says:

I'm certainly a biscuit fan, but I like the ones you were never allowed to have when you were wee. I hated Custard Creams, but I did like the chocolate Bourbons that came in the selection box - the best of a bad bunch.

We don't have a lot of biscuits in our house, mainly because Poppy can reach the biscuit tin and we try to keep her away from them. I do like a good Chocolate Hobnob, though.

You can tell yourself they're healthy because they have oats in them. The problem is in our house a packet of biscuits is opened and then they immediately all get eaten instead of just one or two."

Bangor man Marcus Hunter Neill (30) is best known as drag queen Lady Portia Diamante and as a radio presenter. He says:

My favourite biscuits from my childhood were those pink wafer fingers - those or cookies were always in the house. We had a biscuit cupboard and we were only allowed sweet things on certain days, but I would go and sneak out the pink wafers.

I love biscuits too much, but you won't find any in my house. If I have any in, then I eat them all straight away. Sometimes I do splurge, though, and I'll get a packet of Maryland chocolate chip gooey cookies, which have a splodge of liquid chocolate in the middle."

Leesa Harker (35) is a playwright and lives in Belfast with her two daughters, Lola (7) and Lexi (4). She says:

For me it's always going to be a Custard Cream. I loved them when I was young and I still love them now. Even my daughters love them, so a packet doesn't last very long in our house. Even the dog loves them. The best ones were the yellow pack ones from Stewarts supermarket on the Lisburn Road.

I also really like Fox's Classic and I love a Jammie Dodger. I'm all about the vintage biscuits, it seems.

Our family also loved Tunnock's Teacakes. My mother would have bought my granny a box of 24 of those for Christmas and they would be gone by Boxing Day."

Tracey Rodgers (47) is director of model agency Style Academy and lives in Belfast with her husband Stefan. She says:

I always remember Tunnock's Teacakes. For some reason whenever we were given them, my sister would take it out of the foil and smash it on her forehead before eating it. She said it was so the chocolate all broke up and she would pick it off in bits. She was the kind of person who kept her Easter egg for three months and ate it slowly while I wolfed mine down - it was the same with the Teacakes.

Nowadays we don't keep any biscuits in the house because we would just eat them. It's a real treat when I go to mum and dad's and they usually have at least six or eight packets in the tin. I would probably go for something chewy like a caramel Rocky Road."

Paula McIntyre (48) is a food writer, teacher and broadcaster, who lives in Portstewart. She says:

These days I don't eat many biscuits - usually just something with cheese as I don't have a massive sweet tooth. I do remember those Caramel biscuits with wafers from Tunnock's.

One of my students brought in a new version to class recently and I wish he hadn't. I won't have them in the house now because they're so addictive.

They're called a Caramel Log and they have a wafer covered in toasted coconut. They're amazing."

Emma Fitzpatrick (36) is a Citybeat DJ and lives in Belfast. She says:

When I was a child the thing you wanted in your lunch most was a mint Viscount.

They came in orange, too, but it was all about the mint ones - you knew you had done something good when you got one of those.

I'm not a biscuity person at all now, though, because I'm not really into sweet things, or chocolate."

Katie Larmour (32) is a model and TV presenter and lives in Holywood. She says:

When I was young, we didn't really go for proper biscuits. My mum would take us to the bakery, so we could choose something handmade. I always begged for iced fingers, with or without coconut. My sister Jane always asked for those lovely German butter biscuits, which again, coming from the bakery, were all nicely handmade.

That doesn't mean I never ate biscuits. I disliked going to church when I was younger but always wanted to go because at the end you got tea and biscuits - one of the selection tins that McVitie's do - and I would literally fill my pockets with them. That would have earned me a telling off from my mum because of course you were only supposed to have one or two.

Nowadays, though, my tastes are quite boring. I go for a McVitie's Chocolate Digestive, but only the dark chocolate one. I think they go perfectly with a cup of tea.

Mind you, at the minute I'm driving round with a packet of biscuits in my car. I saw Cadbury's Creme Egg biscuits and got a packet to bring home with me for the family, just to see what they're like."

Lynda Bryans (50) is a broadcaster and part-time lecturer. She lives in Belfast with her husband, Ulster Unionist Party leader Mike Nesbitt, and their sons PJ (19) and Christopher (17). She says:

I'm a Wagon Wheel fan too and they've definitely got smaller since my childhood. They used to be the size of a big wheel of Sellotape and now they're just the size of an ordinary biscuit. That's why they were originally called Wagon Wheels.

I don't eat biscuits much because you can go overboard.

If I do go for something with a cup of tea, then it would be two Digestive biscuits with Nutella in between. I think I got that idea from one of my boys, but I like to say I invented it myself!"

Survey finds our teatime favourites

  • For their biscuit survey, Dreams Come True polled 1,000 people across the UK for their favourite teatime treat.
  • While Wagon Wheels were the resounding winners, pink wafers came in second with 35% of the vote. Jammie Dodgers were right behind these with a whopping 33% of the vote, although in Scotland they topped the polls with 47%.
  • The survey showed that women tend to have a sweeter tooth than men, as 20% more women preferred Iced Gems to men, and 15% of women were fonder of a fondant fancy than the male respondents.
  • There was also something of a generation gap across the country, with most of the over 55s choosing a cake instead of a biscuit - good old Battenburg was the preferred choice.
  • The annual Dream Tea campaign runs from June 15-21. For more information on how you can help raise funds for the charity, visit www.dreamscometrue uk.com

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