Whence Biscos?

Since childhood I have admired Biscos, Nabisco’s version of the sugar wafer. I have eaten them only rarely because (a) they are expensive at $4 or $5 for 8 oz. and (b) they never seem to go on sale.

It may have been more than a decade since I have last tried them. This is what they looked like then…

Biscos Sugar Wafers by Nabisco, old box

…not the box, which in this image looks older than I remember, but the wafers themselves. Notice that the oval-with-rabit-ears logo featured inside the red triangle also appears on the wafers. The logo didn’t make them taste any better, I presume, but nonetheless the cookie part of the wafers was thick, crisp, and delicious.

Here is the box I bought today:

Biscos Sugar Wafers by Nabisco, new box

When I purchased them I did notice that the gold foil around the edge of the box (which I always thought was classy) was missing, but not until later did I notice that the appearance of the wafers had changed also. The oval-with-rabit-ears logo is gone and they look pretty much like any other sugar wafer out there, such as the no-name brands you can find in the dollar store. And that’s what they taste like, too. They don’t taste bad, but I no longer find them compelling. Next time I’ll save some money and buy a no-name brand. (But I won’t buy one of those brands that dyes the wafers bright orange—what’s the deal with that?)

It may actually be impossible to buy the Biscos brand next time, because there are some reports that they are being removed from store shelves. I don’t put much stock in them—after all I was able to buy some today—but if so perhaps it has something to do with Kraft’s acquisition of Nabisco in 2000. I can’t find any mention of Biscos at kraft.com or nabiscoworld.com but they are still for sale at amazon.com and other online retailers.

[edit: I did finally find a Bisco’s (sic) reference at http://productlocator.kraftfoods.com/kraftfoods/productlocator.htm. Choose “cookies/crackers/cones/bars” from the upper pulldown. I’m not sure why they felt the need to interpose an apostrophe.]

By the way, the cookies aren’t quite as pictured on the box. For one, they are fairly small at 6cm by 2cm (2.5in by 0.75in) which means either they found a tiny red napkin and coffee cup for the photo shoot, or photoshop was involved. (The box does say “enlarged to show texture” in small blue lettering just above the plate’s rim.) But more than that, if you count how many diagonal stripes span a wafer, corner to corner, it’s 13 on the box image but 18 on the actual wafers in the box. The waffling is simply less substantial than pictured, in both diameter and in ridge height, which seems odd to me.

(Odder still, the waffling on the bottom of the wafer is different from the waffling on the top. The bottom waffling has a larger diameter and thicker ridges, so it’s actually more like the box image, except it can’t be. The squares on the bottom of the wafer aren’t aligned diagonally, but are parallel to the sides of the wafer.)

four arcade games and a pinball

Wil Wheaton asks

Hey, this’ll be fun: you can have any four classic arcade games in the world. Maintenance and cost aren’t a factor, and there’s no ROM swapping. Which ones to you pick? It’s really tough, but more fun if you don’t spend a ton of time thinking about it, so it’s right off the top of your head. … You also get one pinball machine.

These machines came to me immediately. They aren’t necessarily the ones I would want to own, but they are the ones to which I devoted much quarter-feeding time in my youth.

four classic video games, in the order I played them:Coily and Sam as depicted on the Q*bert video game console

the pinball table:

The linked video shows a two-minute game of Taxi and looks and sounds suprisingly accurate considering it’s on a virtual table, not an actual one. Who knew? Here’s a decent video of an actual Taxi table, though it is overproduced and buries most of the pinball sounds.

The Prisoner is Dead, Long Live The Prisoner

McGoohan as Number 6Patrick McGoohan died today. He may have been more famous for his roles on Danger Man/Secret Agent and Columbo (two Emmy awards as a guest star) but to my mind he will always be the Prisoner. Evidently he wasn’t easy to work with, but as a force in front of and behind the camera he will be missed. He was 80 years old.

The Prisoner lasted for only 17 episodes and is something of an acquired taste, but I guess it qualifies as my favorite television series of all time. There’s the great Ron Grainer theme song, the whimsical Portmeirion setting, the nameless (in a literal sense) characters, the surreal elements (such as Rover), and the ambiguous series ending. What’s not to like?

The Prisoner lives on. There are the DVDs and the television reruns, of course, but that’s not what I’m talking about. AMC is remaking the series with Ian McKellen and Jim Caviezel in the leads. It is scheduled to air later this year. Apparently it’s not a literal remake but a reimagining, sort of like the new Battlestar Galactica. Read all about it on the official site.

I haven’t had a chance to look at much of the material on the official site yet, but kudos sto AMC for making all 17 episodes of the original series available for online viewing. Click on over to remember (or experience for the first time) McGoohan at his best.

Be seeing you.

Weight Watchers Apple Snack

Weight Watchers Apple SnackWhen I was in 2nd grade, I was quite fond of Weight Watchers Apple Snacks. These were apples, cubed, dried until brittle, and absolutely delicious. The pieces were small (maybe 3x3x8mm), browned on the outside from the drying process, and many had dried peel on one face.

The Good Snack!

Crisp, crunchy slices of tree-ripened Apples . . . that’s WEIGHT WATCHERS® Apple Snack. It’s the naturally good, naturally sweet treat everyone in the family will enjoy. Serve WEIGHT WATCHERS Apple Snack in school lunches, between meals or whenever the time is right. WEIGHT WATCHERS Apple Snack . . . good tasting . . . good for you. It’s The Good Snack.

©Weight Watchers International. 1975. Owner of the trademarks. All rights reserved.

Most dried apple products in the world are only halfway dried, with chewy or rubbery apple pieces, but not Weight Watchers Apple Snacks. The pieces were so dry they were difficult to deform with the fingers. Taking a pair of pliers to one would result in a crunching sound and a small pile of white dust. One’s teeth would do about the same as pliers, of course.

In addition to standard apple flavor, it also came in strawberry, peach, and cinnamon. These were just the same dried apple cubes sprinkled with artificially flavored pink, orange, or brown dust. It sounds disgusting but I was fond of the peach and especially the strawberry, even though they left my fingers covered with neon grime. Cinnamon was edible but I didn’t much care for it.


Fruit Snack is made from crisp, delicious apples…like popular Apple Snack. Comes in 3 delicious flavors…tasty flavored Cinnamon, Peach, and Strawberry. The naturally sweet treats for the whole family … at parties, between meals and school lunches. Eat Smart with Weight Watchers Apple Snack and new Fruit Snack…they fit into your weight control program.

©Weight Watchers International. 1976. Owner of the trade marks. All rights reserved.

I once got in immense trouble—and rightfully so—for consuming an Apple Snack that had been given to my brother and left unguarded, then repeatedly denying it. It somehow seemed worth the risk at the time.

As far as I can tell, Weight Watchers Apple Snacks vanished from the face of the planet in the 1970s. I have been able to find two modern-day products that are somewhat reminiscent, but describing those will have to wait for another day.

crunchy munchy Apple, artificially flavored Peach, artificially flavored Cinnamon, artificially flavored Stawberry