When the news landed that Penguins, the UK-alternative (?) to the mighty Tim Tams, were coming to stores in Aus, I knew I had to put them to the test. I had to measure these so-called versions up against the beloved Aussie chocolate biscuits they were claiming to be like. Surely nothing can beat the perfection that is the Tim Tam biscuit, and here are these British alternatives, trying to claim they’re as peng as the Aussie kings.
So I put my mouth on the line, and rated the choccy bickies against each other. Now, this is the kind of investigative journalism you all log on for, I know.
Penguins V Tim Tams: Who Is Better?
From the get-go, I’m already miffed at Penguins. The packs contain a mere six (6) bickies in there. And they’re all individually wrapped? Why? That’s simply just more plastic waste and also more effort that I, a simple bick-wanter, have to go through to get to the chocolatey treat inside.
Sorry Pengies, this initial double-barrier technique is already not working in your favour, AND I’m getting a bonus five (5) more biscuits in a pack of Tim Tams.
I do have to give Penguins a little praise here though because although they’re double-wrapped, the inside, individual wrapping DOES have a little joke on them. The first one I tried had a very daft gag about a penguin, and I did have a good laugh to my boyfriend about it (who was just trying to watch TV.)
Now Penguins are made by McVities, who also do Chocolate Digestives (yum) and Hobnobs (also yum), so I was quite keen to see their interpretation of a choccy biscuit. I noticed in the ingredients list that the bickie contains wheat, which makes me think it might taste more like a digestive than indulgent Tim Tams.
Christ, I feel like Claire Saffitz dissecting an ingredients list like this.
Unwrapping the Penguin and grabbing a Tim Tam out of the (much-preferred) bickie tray, I measured them up against each other. And, well, I don’t wanna say the Penguin is over-compensating for something, but I’m also not not saying that, you know?
They look very alike, that’s for sure. But the Penguin seemed to be starting to go a bit white like chocolate does when you’ve kept it a bit too long.
And the smell, now that was a huge difference. The Tim Tam smelt yum, all chocolatey and creamy and sugary, exactly how a choccy biscuit should. The Penguin though, it smelt more like that cheap chocolate you get from your relatives at Easter. You know the one. It’s not bad, but it’s just not quite…right.
Now, for the moment of truth, the first bite.
I went for the Penguin first, the newcomer. I also wanted to tackle it with a clean palate, and not with the memories and lingering flavours of a beloved Tim Tam in my mouth.
They have the same cross-section as a Tim Tam, sure, but Lord almighty these don’t even hold a torch to the King Of Bicks. Just as I suspected, the wheat base in the biscuit makes it taste a bit more like a chocolate digestive. Not to say it’s necessarily bad or anything, but it’s just not the same mouth experience as a Tim Tam.
What the Penguin did do though, is make the Tim Tams taste about 400x better. The sweetness, the creaminess, the perfection between crunchy bick and chocolate innards. There’s no improving on perfection, my friends.
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so we simply have to thank the Penguins for their service in being a temporary stand-in for expats in the UK absolutely fiending for a chocolatey taste of home, but there’s a big reason why I didn’t eat another Penguin and instead hoofed down like three more Tim Tams.