To celebrate the launch of our second round of funding, you could win a set of 4 Túath Whiskey Glasses and 5 Boxes of Boozy Biccies!
With $13,000 raised so far, the cookie factory is almost set for production. The second round will secure the equipment to complete the wrapping and sealing of our whiskey, gin and Irish Stout cookies.
To enter, Tweet or post on Facebook or Instagram #Irishcookiefactory and the amount needing raised.
The closing date for the competition is midnight on 28th October 2020.
The competition is open to residents of the UK, Ireland, USA and Australia.
You must be 18 or over in the UK and 21 or over in the USA.
The competition is operated by Iconic Biscuits Ltd.
By entering the competition you are agreeing to receive promotional emails from Iconic Biscuits. Your details will not be shared with any other parties. Every email includes the option to unsubscribe at any time.
Winners will be notified by email or via their social media platform of entry.
No purchase is necessary.
The prize is as stated on the competition page or published platform.
No cash alternative is available.
Entry to the competition is open via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the Boozy Biccies website unless otherwise stated.
Only one entry will be accepted from each entrant.
The prize will be awarded within 30 days following the close of the competition.
Results will be announced following the closure of the competition and successful notification of the winner.
The winner will be chosen at random from the comments or Tweets posted.
We reserve the right to publish the winners full name and with permission, their photograph.
Employees of Iconic Biscuits Limited or their immediate family may not enter the competition, nor the employees or immediate family of any third party sponsor or prize provider.
All prizes must be claimed within fourteen (14) days of the winner’s notification.
We reserve the right to re-allocate a prize after this time period.
Winners agree that we may use materials featuring them for promotional purposes.
No fees are payable to any entrant for participation in a competition.
If a competition is not capable of running as planned for any reason, including but not limited to, technical failures, tampering, unauthorised intervention, computer malware, network failure, broadcast failure, fraud or any cause beyond our control which affects fairness, security, integrity or conduct of Iconic Biscuits or a competition, we reserve the right to terminate, modify or suspend a competition.
Iconic Biscuits Ltd. may vary the terms of, or terminate a competition at any time without liability to any contestant or other person for any reason.
The promoter will not award the prize if the competition is terminated.
All our decisions relating to the competition or prizes are final. No correspondence or discussions with entrants or any other person will be entered into.
Tiebreakers, disputes, conflicts, questions or concerns will be managed by us, and if required by law, an independent adjudicator.
Competitions with a draw element will have a winner randomly selected. This decision is final.
A failure by us or a third party to enforce any of these terms and conditions will not give rise to any claim or right of action by any entrant or prize winner, nor shall it be deemed to be a waiver of any of our rights.
Except as specifically set out herein and to the maximum extent permitted by law, all conditions, warranties, representations expressed or implied by law are hereby excluded.
To the fullest extent permitted by law, we hereby exclude and shall not have any liability to any entrant or prize winner in connection with or arising out of any competition howsoever caused, including for any costs, expenses, forfeited prizes, damages and other liabilities, provided that nothing herein shall operate so as to limit or exclude our liability for personal injury or death caused by our negligence. For the avoidance of doubt, this rule applies in respect of any prize provided by a third party provider. In the event that any provision of these Terms are held to be illegal, invalid, void or otherwise unenforceable, it shall be severed from the remaining provisions which shall continue in full force and effect.
The competition is run in accordance with the governing rules of Northern Ireland, United Kingdom.
If you’re not from Ireland or Northern Ireland, you’re probably not familiar with the rules of the biscuit tin. Note: Translating “biscuit tin” to “cookie jar” doesn’t do the tin justice. There are lots of jars out there, but biscuits purchased in a tin, are for special occasions and therefore subject to special rules.
For those not familiar with “the tin”, it’s usually only purchased at Christmas or for special guests coming round to the house, i.e. not you and your brother. They are usually rectangular or round and temporarily sealed. Once this seal has been removed by an authorised person, i.e. your ma, then the rules come into force:
No biscuits from the tin without permission (there’s a trick to getting around this, but more on that in another post)
No biscuits until the guests have had their choice
No accessing the bottom layer of biscuits until the top is empty
No more than two biscuits may be removed at a time
No two biscuits of the same type may be removed at one time
Always put the lid back on
If a dispute breaks out between you and your sibling on who gets what biscuit, your mother will have the final decision (don’t leave it to your da, he’ll eat the biscuit to end the argument)
If your da doesn’t get the jammy dodger, everyone is in trouble
Chocolate fingers, custard creams and bourbon creams always get eaten first (after you da’s scoffed the jammy dodger)
The plain biscuits in the corner have to be eaten before the top layer can be taken away and the second layer opened
Have you ever wanted to own your own business? Lots of people dream of owning their own business, but it’s not very often they want to build a sales company. Selling is a time consuming, technical job. It requires a lot of training, both on the product being sold and in the techniques of research, demographic modelling, writing, negotiation and client management.
Unfortunately for most people, whatever business they start, selling becomes the biggest part of their job. With all the love and craft that goes into developing a product, they still need to sell it. This delay, between developing a product and getting it into a customers hands – and getting paid – is what often leads small business owners to quit. It’s not because they’ve lost interest, or their product has become any less valuable. It’s simply because they don’t have the cash pay the bills, while they learn and manage the selling process. You may have heard the phrase “flash to bang”. It’s the time between seeing the flash of an explosion and hearing the bang. Because light travels faster than sound, there’s a delay. The time between you holding your product and your customer paying for your product, is your flash-to-bang time. And if you can’t wait, the bang stays in your hands.
This is where networking marketing companies stepped in. A network marketing company relies on consumers, like you and me to buy their product, and recommend it to friends and family – a network, of people you know. Naturally when you give someone a product they like, and they give you money for it, you’ll be keen to give it to more people. And make more money.
So now the flash time has gone. You can get a ready made product, complete with sales training and support. All you have to do is “wait” for the bang. Sadly it doesn’t quite work that way. We still have to go out and put the product in people’s hands.
It’s worth mentioning, there’s a tremendous difference between selling your own product, and selling someone else’s. With your own product, there’s a history, an emotional attachment. You want to pass on that love to your customers, so they get the same joy from it that you do. This is what makes selling someone else’s product much easier. You’re not attached to it, if the customer doesn’t love it, it’s not your fault.
On the other side, if they don’t buy they product, you start to question yourself. Are you bad at selling? Are you talking to the wrong people? Have you chosen a bad product to try and sell?
Even if you do sell the product, you have to keep finding new people to sell to. So we’re back to where we started. We have a product and we have a delay, while we try to find new customers. Enter the Multi Level Network Marketing Companies. Multi Level Marketing is the clever idea, of passing on commission from sales beyond the first seller.
So now when I buy a product, I can sell it to my friend and keep the profit from the commission. But my friend wants to do that too. So she starts selling the products to her friends. That’s great for her, but without multi level marketing, I would be cut off from her sales. We’re in the same social group, and my friend is better at selling than me, so she gets to all our friends before I do.
The good news is, with multi level marketing, I get commission on her sales. It’s not as much money as if I had sold directly, but then I don’t have to do any of the leg work.
As far as I can tell, those crafty sales people recognised this model as a potential for quick profit, back in the nineteen seventies (maybe even earlier?). The experienced sales people immediately started recruiting more sales people, and taking the easy commission on their sales. Everyone got paid of course, but sales people at the start of the program, naturally made the most money. Did they sell the most product? Not at all, they turned their attention to recruiting. Building a network of sales people, who could sell for them. Finally, there was a solution to the lead time delay. Instead of finding new customers, we can find new sellers. We only need a handful of sellers, selling the product for us, to make the same money as finding dozens of customers, who actually buy the product.
Building the Pyramids
Naturally, if there’s lots of money to be made, those who prefer shortcuts at the expense of others, will quickly adopt any new process. Multi Level Marketing, or MLM can be very profitable. Today, the biggest MLM companies add on bonuses to sales commission. Bonuses like a Mercedes, or a family trip across the world. It’s genuinely big business. Sadly big business attracts big criminals.
The pyramid was born. Instead of selling any products, the unscrupulous only recruited people. A commission, or bonus was paid for recruitment and the person signing up, paid to join. Commissions were paid from the joining fee. Products appeared in a catalogue, but there was a no push to buy and use these products, only to recruit. The biggest “pyramid schemes” as they became known, never had any products. People simply recruited the next person, who paid to join, and commission was paid up the line, with the people at the top taking the biggest cuts. Fortunately, these have been banned by law.
The Modern MLM’er
Modern MLM companies have to work within strict rules for the selling and marketing of actual products. A modern twist on this, is the selling of the product to yourself. Companies, particularly in the health and beauty industry, rely on sales to their own sellers. This makes perfect sense from a traditional sales point of view. If you sell Volkswagon cars and drive an Audi, people will wonder why you don’t own the product you’re telling them is great. But it also eats into your profit if you’re spending more than you’re selling. For some it’s just a discount programme. The “wholesale” or “reseller” price is a discount off the product. They’re not really interested in selling it to others, but if they do, then it’s a bonus.
Sadly, the Pyramid Schemes of the past gave multi level marketing a terrible industry image. It’s unfairly compounded by poor salesmanship. The MLM companies produce a wealth of marketing material – but they’re often thin on sales material. So, with product in hand, a table cloth and bunch of leaflets, thousands of people go door-to-door, attend trade fairs, hold meetings in their homes and pack their social channels (and the channels of others) with their MLM product.
The more savvy salespeople, (and the trained salespeople) take a different approach. They understand lead times, warm introductions and identifying prospects. The real secret to MLM success is matching the product to the right person at the right time – with the right introduction.
People Don’t Want to be Sold to
It’s become known as “rejection free”. People are afraid of rejection. Did they not buy from me because they don’t like me? Do they not like the product? How can they not see the potential? The list goes on. Standard, 101, everyday sales rejections. In sales training, there’s an answer for all these questions. If you’ve got £10,000 for a week’s training, you can go beyond these basics and get into the programming of the brain. The subtle body language movements, how to craft questions and answers that drive people to buy and overcome rejections in their own mind. If you don’t work for a multi-million pound company, chances are, you’ll not be off to any sales retreats in the mountains with expensive wine and finely printed sales manuals any time soon.
So what to do?
Google and YouTube
The Internet is filled with advice on how to sell. What MLM products to pick and how to sell them. Guess what? Every one of these products are MLM products and come with an affiliate link, an e-book, a CD collection / USB stick / audio download, at least three bonuses, a money back guarantee and are priced either £47 or £197. (There’s a good reason why prices end in 7, but we’ll not go into that here).
The first and only question you really need to answer, when it comes to picking an MLM product, is who are you going to sell to?
If you don’t know, then ignore the marketing that says you’re going to make tons of money. Ignore the marketing that says they’ll train you – you just have to buy… Never forget, selling is a funnel – a slippery downward slope from free sample to low cost product to medium cost to the “gold” package and beyond.
The first person to sell to, is you. Would you buy the product, and not just the first time, but the twentieth? If you still love and use or eat the product after 20 purchases, then that’s a product you can stay behind in the face of rejection and slow sales times.
Aim for bigger. When you’ve sold a few products, look at the bigger markets, that’s anywhere there are more people. Weddings, fairs, pop up shops, anywhere there’s a crowd. Check out the competition. Were there other stands selling the same thing at the last event? Maybe there’s room for two, or you can do it better, but be prepared for competition. Focus on one particular product, to one target market.
Who’s your target market? If you don’t know where to start, look at yourself. Why did you buy the product? Other people will buy the product for the same reason. Where are these people? to find them, write down your own demographics, that’s the list of categories you fall into when being sold to. What age are you? Where do you live? Are you male or female? What’s your income? What’s your level of education? How many children do you have? What are you interests or hobbies?
Make that list and you have a ready made demographic. It’s not perfect (don’t worry, you’re perfect, it’s your demographic that’s slightly off), and it’s a start. Use that information to identify more people. As you narrow down your search, you’ll start to identify other people who fit your categories. These are the people to sell to first. Over time you’ll discover which of those hobbies and interest and ages groups and income levels appear more frequently your sales. As you refine the demographic, you can adjust your sales to match. This is the “secret” that is printed in numerous ebooks, guides, training manuals and basic sales techniques. There are lots of fancy names for it (usually so-called to sell more books and training courses), but it’s identifying a target market and selling to them. Keep it simple, keep it profitable.
Starting from the outside, our shipping boxes from Fellowes, are made in the UK with cardboard from responsible forest sources:
The post safe shipping boxes are registered with the Forest Stewardship Council, or FSC, for mixed materials. Here’s the official definition:
FSC Mix – FSC-certified virgin material based on input from FSC-certified, controlled, and/or reclaimed sources, and supplied with a percentage claim or credit claim. FSC Mix material is only eligible to be used in FSC Mix product groups.
For more information, visit the FSC website, which explains mixed materials.: https://fsc.org/en/media/5378.
Next inside your delivery of delicious biscuits is the outer box. Both the cardboard box and the window film are 100% compostable, and my personal favourite, for being ecologically friendly. Hopefully one day soon, 100% of the packaging will be 100% compostable and not just biodegradable.
The outer box label is an adhesive label, made from fully recycable paper, but even this is due for removal in the future, with direct printing to the outer box, thereby eliminating the need for adhesives and additional paper.
The inner bag is 100% biodegradable. In the future I hope to move to a compostable bag, but until the technology becomes available, the inner bag is polythene, with an additive to break down the bag in under 12 months:
The additive – named TDPA (Totally Degradable Plastic Additives) and produced by EPI Environmental Technologies – is designed to manage the lifetime of polythene products so that, once their useful shelf life has passed, they will first degrade and then biodegrade into environmentally-benign products.
The good news is, this creates 100% recyclable layers of packaging, while ensuring food safety, shelf life guarantees and safety during shipping. The better news is, I’m always working with suppliers to identify the latest in compostable, eco friendly packaging and how I can change the product if necessary, to use the packaging with the least environmental impact.
If you’re familiar with my Black Tom’s Sea Biscuits, then you’ll no doubt be at least aware of Dead Man’s Fingers (DMF) rum.
It’s totally worth trying on its’ own or mixed with a cola. It’s a fantastic rum from Cornwall and contributes to making my favourite biscuit in the range.
More recently however, they have just released a 4th flavour (in addition to coconut, coffee and the original spiced). This time it’s hemp, or CBD. Once again, perfectly good on it’s own, or with a cola.
But what actually is Hemp?
Part of the Cannabis family, hemp or more specifically industrial hemp, is grown for it’s stem fibres. They’re incredibly strong and used to make room and fibreboard among other things. The seeds also contain oil, which can be extracted.
Our favourite DMF rum has been infused with the hemp oil to create an amazing experimental rum. Which leads to the next obvious question… could it work as a biscuit?
Could hemp oil work in a biscuit, or am I straying into “loaded cookies”?
I get a lot of fun suggestions for biscuits flavours. There’s always the common ones of course, gin, sherry, port etc. Some of those are in development right now, but the one that caught my interest last year, was a particularly famous brand of fortified wine.
Instagrammer Eoin made the suggestion (and subsequently received the very first box in production). The tricky part, is it’s so famous, it can’t be named. I know, bananas, but it’s a legal thing. I can’t piggy back off another brands’ name. But I can tell you, the biscuits are called “Quick Buck”, and they’re made with a Fortified Wine that’s produced in Devon, England, and it has a worldwide reputation for being infamous.
It also has a great selection of colloquial names, such as “bucky/buccy/buckie”, “wreck the hoose juice”, “lurgan champagne”, “commotion lotion” and more locally in Ireland, “bottle of stuff”.
None of these names were particularly suited to a product label, and the term “champagne” is protected in law, reserved for select French wineries and thanks to an agreement from World War 2, a few wineries in California.
I had never tried the wine until it was suggested, but I was surprised by it’s pleasant caramel colour, which incidentally looks really well on the biscuits. (Any flavour which doesn’t require an artificial colour is always welcome). Oddly, the bottle declares a high alcohol content and a high caffeine content, but doesn’t provide any ingredients other than fortified wine.
For my early biscuits, the ingredients were straight forward, with a paper based analysis sufficient to provide all of the ingredient and nutritional values, subject to verification by a lab before launch. But these were different. These called for some specialist testing. So off they went, post shelf life testing, they were submitted to a food analysis lab for a nutritional break down.
The results weren’t particularly surprising, but the key element here is accuracy. I couldn’t find any paper based analysis which provided a breakdown of the wine. It has always been (and for the foreseeable future will remain) a drink with a little mystery about it.
And the taste? I can’t say I’d drink a full “bottle of stuff”, but the biscuits are definitely tasty, and just a little bit mysterious.
I’ve always imagined test kitchens to be laboratories, with colourful liquids and expensive machines spinning tubes and outputting graphs.
My kitchen in the house doesn’t do any of those cool things, but apparently it is a test kitchen. The only thing that makes it different from other kitchens (aside from a really old dodgy Electrolux oven), is the detailed records of all biscuits produced.
Biccie lovers regularly ask if they can test the biscuits, try new flavours and suggest the next biscuit to be made, which I completely understand. It sounds glamourous, fun and scientific all at the same time.
What lots of people don’t realise, is eating your way through several kilograms of biscuit dough (cooked and raw), is neither glamourous nor fun. But it is scientific, as long as you write everything down.
Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not complaining. It’s a bit like fishing. You don’t know what you’re going to get until you see it. You have a plan for what you want and a plan to make it happen, but until you’ve got it in your hand, you really can’t be sure.
So where is the fun and glamour? The fun (for me anyway), is in the planning and nearing the final result. In developing Black Tom’s Sea Biscuits for example, there was a selection of rums to try. (The fun part). Each rum was tasted straight – no mixers, just as they’re bottled.
The next stage is to pair them with the icing and the biscuit. This naturally changes the flavour, making it sweeter and changing the consistency, so it’s a completely new product. The secret is not stopping with a great new flavour. The secret is to keep testing, rebalancing the alcohol with the ingredients until the product is fully tested. A great product could be a tweak away from an amazing product.
It’s also equally possible that a great flavour turns into a rotten flavour, which is where the importance of paperwork comes in. Looking back through the notes and findings will identify the perfect biscuit, and exactly what’s required to recreate it.
Sadly, making the biscuit is the easy part and typically takes around 4-6 weeks. With the ingredients and design decided upon, lots of biscuits are produced to test scaleability. You’ll notice the cool pirate arm with the rum bottle I designed doesn’t actually appear on the biscuits you buy. Sadly the process to add the arm wasn’t repeatable at scale without some extremely expensive machinery. The test biscuits are then bagged and packed away in a cupboard for shelf life testing. If you want three months shelf life, you need to store and test for a minimum of three months. If you want a year, it’s store and test for a year, assuming the product hasn’t spoiled during that time.
The hard part is the packaging.
Packaging has so many requirements, it’s a world of study all on it’s own. Obviously the first product is the hardest, but every new product requires a new label and nutritional values calculated. Bagging and boxing are slow processes, unless you have tens of thousands of pounds spare, so it’s a cheap and painfully slow process to get started.
You can design the most beautiful box or packet for your biscuits, but if it doesn’t handle well in transit (in delivery vehicles, boats and aircraft, shop cages, shelf packers and so on), then it’ll never see a shop shelf. If you want scaleability, the pack also has to fit inside another box (an outer), which can fit securely onto a pallet when stacked.
The label is yet another field of study, from product naming to ingredient lists; there’s an encyclopedia of regulations to determine what you can and cannot write or display on your label. But getting back to the fun, there is the naming and graphics to be chosen. Personally, I’m a fan of my research, and basing my products on historical details. Black Tom for example, is a rarely documented pirate, who is thought to have hidden his treasure in Dunluce Castle, a couple of hours north of my kitchen. (Spoiler alert, in Northern Ireland, anywhere in the entire country is no more than a couple of hours away, unless there’s sheep walking up the road). So with a local pirate, a delicious Cornish rum, and a new biscuit, we’re all set for a new product.