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Behind the Scenes at January’s Photoshoot

Behind the scenes January 2021

New year… new photos. The product photos have been needing updated for a while, but with all the changes in machinery at the factory forcing changes in the packaging, Christmas was a very quick and makeshift photoshoot, with temporary biscuit tubes and Christmas labels.

Even the packaging you see here is changing, to brown kraft boxes instead of the white. But schedules as they are, I have to shoot now and Photoshop later.

The great news is, of the five pieces of packaging involved in biscuit production, I’ve found a way to remove one and change two more to recyclable and compostable. The last three will take more research but I’m talking to packaging specialists and manufacturers to get the entire package as eco-friendly as possible. I’m not just talking about carbon offsets by tree planting, but actual physical changes to the production methods and packaging to get rid of non-recyclable plastics.

It came as a huge surprise when I started into large volume bagging in 2020 that recyclable wasn’t standard. Some of the biggest suppliers were even curious that I wanted to, as they put it, “go that way.” I naively thought recyclable was standard and compostable was the new specialism. Apparently it will be some years before that’s true. Personally I’m not prepared to wait. I don’t think the planet will wait either.

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Visit Us at Gifted Christmas Market

Grab your last minute gifts at Gifted, this 4th and 5th December!

Gifted is the online Christmas market by Enterprise Nation, a huge network for entrepreneurs. Together with 499 other small businesses, I’ll be online throughout Friday and Saturday, with special discounts and some fun.

On Friday, you’ll also be able to see inside the factory, while I’m working on producing your lovely biscuits.

To join in the fun, get your free tickets at Eventbrite:

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The Micro Factory…

So it’s been an eventful couple of months since July. I’ve been turned down for every Covid fund available. I’ve got a personal loan which provides the absolute bare minimum to buy the (refurbished) equipment I need. And I’ve got a disused bakery unit that’s smaller than a household garage.

But I have a unit and I have equipment. Which means everyone else can have biscuits 😀

Firstly my apologies, if you placed an order this week, it’s delayed until next week (you should have received an email about this already). Moving out of my house and into the factory has been brilliant and also a lot like moving house, only the house I’m moving into hasn’t been built yet.

There are literally engineers working around me as I try to patch, repair and replace everything that needs updating and cleaned. The bakery was previously used for something that involved mountains of turmeric, so everything is stained yellow. the previous occupants must have gone home looking like the Simpsons every day!?

McGrath Bakery Services delivering my flow wrapper
2 top blokes from McGrath Bakery Services, delivering a massively heavy flow wrapper. Believe it or not, this is about the smallest flow wrapper you can buy. Absolutely bananas.

After a thorough scrubbing, bleaching, cleaning and disinfecting, the machinery is now coming in. Considerably more qualified elves than me are doing the installs and training, each with the same comedy look on their face when they ask how many people work here. Yep, just me. And my machines. They have no idea why I’m so happy to be making thousands of biscuits on my own. I would love to have several people working with me of course. But it’s all relative. After working in my home kitchen, every machine is a luxury and a step up in production. I’ve even got an exciting new recipe to try and other companies coming in to look at bespoke production. I haven’t even switched the machines on yet >D

So this week is testing. The machines, the processes, the safety procedures, the quality and finally the taste. All being well, full production starts next week. Straight after the scheduled 5 hours of meetings I have to attend to get my paperwork in order. Doing BRCGS accreditation is rarely referred to as a giggle. Actually it’s Never referred to as a giggle. Except by me. Apparently I’m nuts. But that’s nothing new. 😀

If you follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or TikTok, come and say hi. You literally could be the only person I talk to in my entire working day. The great part is, next week there will be biscuits. Lots and lots of lovely biscuits.

The Micro Office. It’s baltic, tiny and brilliant all at the same time. If you look closely you’ll get a sneak peek at an upcoming packaging design. There’s also some of the awesome bottle opener hats stacked up at the back too. Check out the shop for details.
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Win Túath Glasses and Boozy Biccies!

Win 4 Túath Glasses and 5 Boxes of Boozy Biccies worth £60 and free delivery!

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.

For details of the fundraising, visit https://gogetfunding.com/help-build-an-irish-alcohol-cookie-factory

Terms & Conditions

  1. The closing date for the competition is midnight on 28th October 2020.
  2. The competition is open to residents of the UK, Ireland, USA and Australia.
  3. You must be 18 or over in the UK and 21 or over in the USA.
  4. The competition is operated by Iconic Biscuits Ltd.
  5. 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.
  6. Winners will be notified by email or via their social media platform of entry.
  7. No purchase is necessary.
  8. The prize is as stated on the competition page or published platform.
  9. No cash alternative is available.
  10. Entry to the competition is open via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the Boozy Biccies website unless otherwise stated.
  11. Only one entry will be accepted from each entrant.
  12. The prize will be awarded within 30 days following the close of the competition.
  13. Results will be announced following the closure of the competition and successful notification of the winner.
  14. The winner will be chosen at random from the comments or Tweets posted.
  15. We reserve the right to publish the winners full name and with permission, their photograph.
  16. 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.
  17. All prizes must be claimed within fourteen (14) days of the winner’s notification.
  18. We reserve the right to re-allocate a prize after this time period.
  19. All personal information provided to the promoter will be held in accordance with the Privacy Policy available at boozybiccies.com with the addition noted above in point 4 regarding contact from the prize provider. This is also available in writing by sending a stamped addressed envelope to Iconic Biscuits Ltd. 4 Blenheim Park, Hillsborough, BT26 6NY, United Kingdom.
  20. Winners agree that we may use materials featuring them for promotional purposes.
  21. No fees are payable to any entrant for participation in a competition.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. The promoter will not award the prize if the competition is terminated.
  25. 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.
  26. Tiebreakers, disputes, conflicts, questions or concerns will be managed by us, and if required by law, an independent adjudicator.
  27. Competitions with a draw element will have a winner randomly selected. This decision is final.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. 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.
  31. The competition is run in accordance with the governing rules of Northern Ireland, United Kingdom.

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House Rules for the Biscuit Tin

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.

Vintage biscuit tin

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:

  1. No biscuits from the tin without permission (there’s a trick to getting around this, but more on that in another post)
  2. No biscuits until the guests have had their choice
  3. No accessing the bottom layer of biscuits until the top is empty
  4. No more than two biscuits may be removed at a time
  5. No two biscuits of the same type may be removed at one time
  6. Always put the lid back on
  7. 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)
  8. If your da doesn’t get the jammy dodger, everyone is in trouble
  9. Chocolate fingers, custard creams and bourbon creams always get eaten first (after you da’s scoffed the jammy dodger)
  10. The plain biscuits in the corner have to be eaten before the top layer can be taken away and the second layer opened
  11. No biscuits before dinner. No, not even one.

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Eco Friendly Packaging

When I looked into packaging for my biscuits, I was amazed at how much wasn’t recyclable.

Naively I had thought the world of wrapping was almost fully recyclable, with compostable being the next goal. Sadly it turns out recyclable isn’t even standard, but a special request, at least in 2021.

Quick Buck Buckfast fortified wine iced biscuits

The good news is, there’s more to being eco-friendly than just recyclable. Looking at the total carbon footprint of a product, creates a whole new way of choosing packaging. In November 2020 for example, I sourced beautiful cardboard tubes. They were food safe, could be easily labelled and were made from card. They looked like the perfect solution.

When I looked at the manufacturing however, there was a huge amount of adhesive required and the manufacturing methods had a high cost of production. Being inflexible, they also required a huge amount of space in packaging boxes. This added to the total packaging, the shipping space in containers and the road haulage, creating an overall much bigger footprint.

In December I rethought the packaging and found a thinner, lighter box, that could be folded flat for shipping. It’s also fully recyclable and uses minimal adhesive in its construction.

The next challenge was packing filler. When more than one packet of biscuits is ordered, they go into a postal box, filled out with packaging materials I recycle from the packages delivered to the factory. As these run out, and for hampers, I now have Wood Wool. Wood wool was a revelation to me, it’s like wood shavings but without the dust. And because it’s pure wood, it’s fully compostable.

In total there are six elements to the packaging, which can be seen below:

Boozy Biccies Irish Cookies and Gifts
All the wrapping: biscuit tray, film wrap, outer box, hamper box, hamper filler, postal box.

To reduce the footprint further, I re-examined the packaging from inside to outside. The inner tray is recyclable, but made of plastic. As these run out, they will be replaced with recyclable card.

The film wrap is not recyclable and I’m talking to a number of manufacturers who offer recyclable films to identify the one which will work with the biscuits.

The outer box now has a much smaller footprint, but I’m waiting on the supplier to confirm if it is Fully Sustainably Certified (FSC). If not, I’ll be re-sourcing another box. While looking at the boxes and hamper options, I took the decision to remove the box entirely. It’s required for retail, but for hampers, the film wrap and label are sufficient, giving customers the same delicious biscuits, but with one less piece of card and adhesive.

The postal boxes have been replaced with self-sealing boxes. An adhesive strip across the front, seals the box, allowing me to post the biscuits without additional packing tape, reducing the footprint and plastic further.

The filling on the box is Wood Wool, a fully compostable natural wood.

I’m increasingly pleased with the packaging. There’s more to do though. I want all the card FSC and every element recyclable or better yet, compostable. As a micro producer I can’t change the industry overnight, but I don’t plan to be a micro producer forever, and by starting now I can set the standard going forward for my own packaging. Hopefully others who read this and buy my biscuits will choose similar brands, who aren’t content with large scale waste product.

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Dead Mans Fingers Hemp Rum

Dead Mans Fingers Hemp Rum

Dead Mans Fingers Hemp Rum
DMF Hemp Rum

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”?

Only the test kitchen knows for sure.

Dead Man’s Fingers Hemp Rum is available on Amazon, Ocado and in Asda stores.