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As an Australian living in New York, I often have to defend my home country’s cuisine—like Tim Tams, vegemite, lamingtons, meat pies—from Americans obsessed with Doritos and Gushers. Lately, I’ve come under attack from British expats too, who think their homegrown snack foods with bizarre names like “Hobnobs” and “Hula Hoops” are even better.
Unlike your American favorites, these snacks can’t be bought at your local Trader Joe’s; instead, fans need to seek out local specialty stores or pay a bit of a premium and order online through Amazon. Even so, I was intrigued and so tried a bunch of Britain’s best foods to whittle down a list of the very best that you absolutely need to have in your life. Disclaimer: We don’t recommend reading any further on an empty stomach, you’ve been warned.
“Just a fabulous biscuit” is how my (very) English friend explained Hobnobs to me, adding that you “dunk them in your cuppa,” which means you should eat them with tea. Ingredients include flour, sugar, butter, and oats, so they’re kind of similar to a regular oatmeal cookie, but crunchier.
Allegedly McVitie’s Penguin Biscuits are what inspired Australia’s Tim Tams, but the latter is clearly the new and improved version. In saying that, these milk chocolate-coated rectangular cookies are delicious. They come individually wrapped, making them perfect for snacking.
“What is this terrifying savory pastry?” I hear you ask. It’s sausage wrapped in fluffy, buttery pastry and served either hot after baking in the oven or cold. Sounds incredible, right? This British lunch or snack food (also popular in Australia, FYI) can be bought fresh at bakeries or frozen in supermarkets. So much better than America’s questionable pig-in-a-blanket iteration, just saying.
My British friends rave about Jaffa Cakes—apparently they’re everything. Personally, I was horrified while taste-testing to discover Jaffa Cakes are SOFT, not crunchy, which made the treat taste stale. Upon first inspection, they look like a crunchy chocolate cookie, but they are not. A shocking, disappointing experience all around for me personally, but somehow these were still a hit with others in the office.
Walkers Salt & Vinegar Crisps
When a friend from London told me she could easily put away six small packets of Walker’s chips, I was intrigued. And I have to say, as far as salt and vinegar “potato crisps” go, this brand is good—the vinegar flavor is intense, and probably a little overpowering if you’re normally a barbecue or sour cream and onion kind of girl.
Border Light and Buttery Viennese Whirls
Buttery, light, crumbly—these Viennese Whirls are amazing, but damn addictive. Just don’t check the calorie content, and you’ll be fine.
The difference between an American biscuit and a British scone is that the latter doesn’t taste quite as buttery—but that’s only because you’re supposed to lather the spread on afterward, along with some jam or marmalade. Serve with tea, obviously.
Britain is the birthplace of not only Shakespeare and Benedict Cumberbatch, but also Cadbury chocolate, and one of the company’s most loved products since the 1950s has been this fingerlike biscuit. More than 1 billion of these are eaten in the UK every year—so, 36 every single second!
The McVitie’s Ginger Nut biscuit—not cookie—is a ginger-flavored snack that you can easily make yourself at home with a little molasses, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Or, just order the pre-prepared version online from Britain.
If you only try one snack on this list, make it Guinness Crisps—not chips, got it? This was a crowd-pleaser with the whole STYLECASTER office, and my favorite British snack on the list. They’re your basic potato chip—a little crunchier and more oily than most, perhaps.
These salty, small crisp-like treats taste—and look—a lot like Bugles. They’re savory and addictive, and even in a world where you can buy double-choc chip cookies and chips in every flavor imaginable, these snacks hold up.
Crawford’s Custard Creams
Sickly sweet, but in a good way, Crawford’s Custard Creams follow your classic cookie formula of sugar and flour.