Brains in Fashion
Which Biscuit is The Best Dunker, According to Science?
4th February 2019
Name a more iconic duo than tea and biscuits... we won't even bother waiting because it's, without a doubt, the best pairing to ever exist. There is no situation that can't be improved by a cup of tea and a biscuit; whether you've had a bad day, a good day, it's a bit drizzly outside or just because it's 11 o'clock.
Having said this, there is no greater betrayal than dunking a biscuit into your freshly brewed tea, only to have it break off and become a mushy mess at the bottom of your mug. With 82% of British tea drinkers being dunkers, we decided it was only right to put some biscuits up to the dunking test! So, we paired up with Whittard to conduct, what may be, the most important science experiment ever.
Who are the candidates?
We selected our candidates from an enormous pool of dunk-worthy biscuits. After careful consideration, we selected 8 biscuits (all round-shaped to keep the experiment fair) and a 9th controversial choice. Here are our finalists:
McVities Rich Tea
McVities Chocolate Digestives
Maryland Chocolate Chip Cookies
Fox's Cream Crunch
and finally (and very controversially):
McVities Jaffa Cakes
We tested each biscuit in a freshly brewed cup of Whittard 's English Breakfast Tea, with 50ml of skimmed milk. The biscuits were then dunked for 5 seconds at a time, until it broke in half and the number of dunks were recorded.
To account for any odd biscuits with structural issues, we tested each biscuit type three times and calculated the average number of dunks.
7th place: Digestive
Dunk rating: 3/10
This came as quite a surprise to us, as it's known to be a favourite amongst many Brits. The infamous Digestive biscuit didn't perform well in our dunk test, taking just 3 dunks to break in half. As delicious as they may be, Digestives may be best reserved for dry consumption... or even better, with a chunk of cheese...
Joint 6th place: Whittard Double Chocolate Chip
Dunk rating: 3.5/10
These Whittard Double Chocolate Chip Biscuits are so jam-packed with chocolate chips that as soon as they were dipped into a hot tea, the chocolate and sugars melted and completely disrupted any structure it previously had! It took 5 dunks to break fully in half, but with every dunk after the first, the biscuit came out missing big chunks. Unless soggy chocolate is your cup of tea (if you'll pardon the pun), then don't bother dunking these more than once!
Joint 6th place: Marylands Chocolate Chip Cookie
Dunk rating: 3.5/10
In a very predictable turn of events, the Maryland Chocolate Chip Cookies responded to tea in a similar way to Whittard's Chocolate Chip Biscuits. They took just 5 dunks to break in half but started crumbled from the second dunk. We imagine that this would be the same for any chocolate chip cookie with a high proportion of chocolate chips because as soon as the chocolate melts, the structure is lost. Overall, we would recommend these as a side dish or a one time dunk!
5th place: Fox's Cream Crunch
Dunk rating: 4/10
These should have really been much lower down on our list as they broke apart severely from the first dunk and lasted only 6 dunks. It needs to be taken into account that they are made up of two biscuits and a cream layer, so has an unfair advantage over the other candidates. Another negative to note is that it leaves an oily film on the surface of the tea after dunking, which is less than ideal! Having said this, to be quite honest with you, the cream is delicious when it's melted and warm, so we bumped it up a position (very scientifically, of course).
4th place: Oreo
Dunk rating: 5/10
Next up was another biscuit sandwich; the trusty Oreo. We found that this was a very sturdy biscuit, although the cream centre let it down slightly. Once the cream had melted, the biscuits were no longer working as one, leaving them both vulnerable to breakage. The biscuit as a whole lasted 10 dunks, but not before leaving half the biscuit to drown in the tea after 6 dunks.
3rd place: Rich Tea
Dunk rating: 6/10
The bronze medalist is the Rich Tea. This biscuit technically had the best dunking durability, but let us tell you that it did not go soggy with dignity. After surviving a massive 27 dunks, you can't fault the Rich Tea for endurance, but the stretchy mess this biscuit turned into was less than appetising. Its commitment to the cause managed to push itself onto the podium, but was definitely not worthy of the crown, due to inedibility!
2nd place: Chocolate Digestive
Dunk rating: 8.5/10
The silver medalist is the Chocolate Digestive, the chocolate-coated brother of the booby prize winner. The chocolate coating seemed to give this biscuit some extra durability to survive the dunk, with an impressive 15 dunks. As long as you can deal with a slightly chocolatey thumb and a chocolate contaminated tea, a Chocolate Digestive is a solid dunking choice.
1st place: Whittard All Butter Shortbread
Dunk rating: 10/10
The winner of the Wonk! Dunk Awards 2019 is Whittard's All Butter Shortbread! An absolute specimen of a dunking biscuit. It managed to retain full structure until it broke exactly in half after 20 dunks. The biscuit soaked up tea, without becoming too soggy, making for a delicious dunker that has the ability to become saturated with tea (if you so desire). These are a must-have for your elevensies!
Bonus: Jaffa Cake
Dunk rating: 7/10
There has been much debate about whether a Jaffa Cake is a biscuit or a cake. But as suggested by its name it is, in fact, a cake despite possessing some biscuit-like qualities. We think the clear defining quality is that they go hard when stale, like a cake, as opposed to soft, like a biscuit.
But, cake or biscuit, the Jaffa Cake made a surprisingly good dunker. We had predicted that its soft nature would cause it to break up quickly, but we couldn't have been more wrong! The cake base seemed to stretch as it soaked up the tea, creating an elasticy consistency. The weight and sogginess finally became too much to handle at 32 dunks, when it split in half. Fair play Jaffa Cake, fair play.
So, there you have it. If you want a quick, one dunk wonder, then most biscuits will do the job. However, if you want a proper, tea-soaked biscuit, then Chocolate Digestives or Whittard's All Butter Shortbread are the options for you... all proven by science, of course!
We'd love to try this experiment again, to see how your favourite dunkers compare to our current crown-bearer (also because this is one of the tastiest science experiments we've ever done). Send in your biscuit suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org or via social media (@wonkscience).
Be sure to check out Whittard's full range of tea, biscuits, hot chocolate, coffee and more at www.whittard.co.uk.