Posted in Kafevend Blog
Something very exciting happened to me at Easter; I got to stroke a Humboldt penguin called Mildred in the lovely Paradise Park, down in Cornwall. I can therefore testify that penguins close up are just as endearing as when viewed waddling around from a distance. Perhaps it was this positive association that William MacDonald was banking on when he invented the 'Chocolate Penguin' in 1932. Yes indeed, it's time to consider another potential chocolate biscuit to enjoy alongside your tea or coffee!
While we firmly associate the 'Penguin' with McVitie's, it was first produced by the biscuit manufacturer William MacDonald in Glasgow with the tagline, “Trust MacDonalds to bake the best biscuits”. It wasn't until 1964 that it became a McVitie's brand. The biscuit itself has remained essentially the same as the one I remember eating in the 1970s, but the packaging has changed quite a bit. Forty years ago penguins came in red, blue or green foil wrappers that you could use to make a tiny walking stick, like you still can with 'Caramel Wafer' wrappers. However the current appeal of the cellophane wrapper is in the humorously depicted penguin and the joke or amusing fact that you can use to entertain family, friends or colleagues, thus unashamedly capitalising on the Christmas cracker idea.
A perusal of my local supermarket's shelves has revealed that 'Penguin' biscuits also come in orange and mint flavours these days. There are even cake bar and mini roll variants for those who don't feel up to the crunch of a biscuit, so perhaps it's time once again to “p-pick up a p-p-p-penguin”!