Biscuits are a beloved treat all around the world. Whether you enjoy them with tea, coffee, or as a snack, they are a staple in many households. But have you ever wondered about the origins of this delicious snack?

The word "biscuit" has a fascinating history that goes all the way back to ancient Rome. "Bis" means twice in Latin, and "coctus" means cooked. The Romans would bake bread twice to make it last longer, and this is where the word "biscuit" comes from.

Beschuit the Dutch derivative from the word Biscuit

But the story doesn't end there. Over time, the word "biscuit" took on various meanings and interpretations, depending on the country and language. From "bescuit" in Old French to "beschuit" in Dutch, the word has evolved and shaped the way we understand this baked treat.

In this article, we'll explore the etymology and meaning of "biscuit" and how it has become a beloved snack worldwide.


Early history of biscuits

The history of biscuits goes back thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians are believed to have been the first to make a form of biscuit, which they called "hardtack." Hardtack was made from a mixture of flour and water and was baked until it was hard and dry. It was a staple food for soldiers and sailors, as it could last for months without spoiling.

The ancient Greeks and Romans also made biscuits, which were called "biscotti." These biscuits were made from a mixture of flour, eggs, and sugar, and were often flavoured with almonds or anise. They were baked twice, just like the Roman bread, to make them crisp and dry. Biscotti were often dipped in wine to soften them before eating.

In the Middle Ages, biscuits were a luxury item, reserved for the wealthy. They were often made with expensive ingredients such as spices, honey, and dried fruits. These biscuits were known as "spiced bread", "gingerbread" or "lebkuchen" and were often given as gifts.


The evolution of biscuit-making techniques

As the years went by, biscuit-making techniques evolved. In the 17th century, the English developed a biscuit that was made from a mixture of flour, butter, and sugar. This biscuit was called a "cookie," and it was a soft, chewy biscuit that was often flavoured with chocolate chips or dried fruits.

In the 19th century, the Industrial Revolution brought about significant changes in the way biscuits were made. Biscuit-making machines were invented, which made it possible to mass-produce biscuits. This made biscuits more affordable and accessible to the general public.


The different types of biscuits around the world

Today, there are many different types of biscuits around the world. In the United States, biscuits are a type of savoury bread that is often served with gravy or butter.
In the United Kingdom, biscuits are sweet treats that are often served with tea or coffee. Some of the most popular types of biscuits in the UK include digestives, butter biscuits, and custard creams. 
In France, biscuits are called "petits fours," and they are often served as an appetiser or dessert. Some of the most popular types of petits fours include macarons, madeleines, and financiers.

The cultural significance of biscuits

Biscuits have become more than just a tasty treat. They are a part of our culture and traditions. In the UK, they are often served during afternoon tea, which is a tradition that dates back to the 19th century. During this time, biscuits were often served with tea to help people feel full between meals.

In the US, biscuits are often associated with Southern cuisine. Biscuits and gravy is a popular breakfast dish in the South, and it is often served with eggs, bacon, or sausage.

In Japan, biscuits are often given as gifts during the holidays. They are beautifully packaged and often come in unique flavours such as green tea or strawberry.


The role of biscuits in modern cuisine

Biscuits are not only a food they are also a versatile ingredient in modern cuisine. They can be used in a variety of dishes, from appetisers to desserts. They are used to make breakfast sandwiches, cheesecake bases and used as a topping for ice cream or desserts. They can also be used as a binding agent in dishes such as meatballs or veggie burgers.

Fun facts and trivia about biscuits

  • The world's largest biscuit was made in 2001 in the UK. It weighed over 40,000 pounds and was over 100 feet long.
  • The first Oreo biscuit was sold in 1912.
  • The word "cookie" comes from the Dutch word "koekje," which means "little cake."
  • The most expensive biscuit ever sold was a 23-carat gold-plated biscuit, which sold for over $1,000.


Biscuit-related idioms and expressions

Biscuits have also made their way into our language and culture. There are many idioms and expressions that are related to biscuits, such as:
  • "That's the way the cookie crumbles" - meaning that things don't always go as planned.
  • "(well) butter my butt and call me a biscuit" - expression of surprise.
  • "Take the biscuit" - meaning something that is particularly annoying or surprising.

At The Biskery we're proud that we're evolving the word biscuit even further through our brand name. And we simply love that we work dough and mix ingredients, much like they did in the olden days. So that we can provide you with treats that are worthy of being gifted and enjoyed.

Written by Saskia Roskam

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