“ Brand: Jacob's / Type: Snacks - Crackers „
I always remember my Mother buying Jacobs cream crackers and also their Tuc biscuits when I was a small child and they have remained favourites of mine. Jacobs started making their savoury biscuits when they opened their first bakery in 1881 in Ireland and, despite one or two upheavals within the company, have gone from strength to strength, their biscuits are as popular as ever.
Of the Jacob's range Tuc are my favourites, there are variations on these such as the Tuc sandwich, black pepper Tuc and a few others, but plain Tuc are the best in my opinion and a staple in our food cupboards.
Available from most supermarkets, corner shops etc these delicious delicacies come with a premium price tag. I bought my latest pack in our local Tesco for a princely £1.10, but do often find them on offer, most often in Wilkinsons. When you compare this to other savoury biscuits they do come in at a high price.
But are they worth it?
You can see from the stock picture here that the packaging is quite striking, the bright yellow does stand out on the shelf and you will normally find them alonsgside another famous Jacobs product.....the cream cracker. The packaging is, I am glad to say, very easy to open, simply pull the seam apart (you can do this from either end). For some bizarre reason they do label it 'pull here'.
There are about 30 octagonal biscuits inside the pack (rectangular but with the corners cut off and rounded), a golden yellow biscuit with pin holes on each one depicting the word 'Tuc'. The holes are designed to stop the biscuit form getting air bubbles in the baking process but add an interesting decorative effect.
Taste wise these are delicious (to me anyway, but may be an acquired taste). They are quite salty with a buttery aftertaste, comparable to Ritz crakers, but without the cheddar taste. They have a delightful crunchy texture and melt in the mouth as soon as you put your tongue to them although they are a little greasy to the touch, more salty than other crackers but much tastier, in spite of the saltiness they do not leave your mouth dry nor make you crave liquid refreshment. Watch out for the crumbs as, unlike cream crackers, these do sort of disintegrate when you break them in half or take a bite! There really isn't any sort of aroma to them to describe.
I like mine with a thin sliver of mature cheddar but they are equally as tasty plain and it is easy to eat half a packet in one fell swoop.There is no need to spread with butter or margarine, indeed I think this would detract from the flavour experience.
Of course, like all things delicious they do have a downside......fat!
Yes, sadly these are high in saturated fats. Typically a solitary 2.5" x 1.5" biscuit contains 1.3g of fat of which 1.0g is saturates! Each one has just 24 calories but 0.1g of salt. Not the healthiest of options but not many tempting foods are unfortunately.
Amongst other ingredients (I am not listing the full amount but they are all on the pack) they contain egg, gluten, sulphites, sesame seeds and milk, meaning if you have any allergies these are things to look out for.
As you may have gathered I love these. If you are on a diet they are probably not going to help much as they have an addictive quality, but if you have the willpower then it is worth tucking into a couple for a light snack. I do think they are on the expensive side so it is certainly worth shopping around for a decent deal.
So on my recommendation, if you haven't tried these already, buy a pack today....and 'Tuc' in!
See next review
This morning I decided I had absolutely no inclination to make three packed lunches so sent Charlotte and Alice to school with a couple of snack packs of TUC biscuits and a bit of cheese - and a couple of quid for chips if they could dodge the teacher to get there that day! I knew Mark was taking me for a carvery for lunch so when I got peckish at 11am I felt myself reaching for the last pack, thinking that such an insubstantial and irrelevant snack wouldn't possibly fill me up too much to spoil my meal.
TUC biscuits are, well, they're nothing special really. They're in the same vein as Cream Crackers but with a more crumbly Mini Cheddar-like texture. Unlike Cream Crackers you're not going to choke to death if you eat them dry (actually I prefer them dry), but you can add butter and toppings to the rectangular cracker if you want to.
The actual cracker has a funny taste, it's biscuity but salted to within an inch of its life to create a savoury snack that is strangely addictive. I love the 'baked' flavour of a TUC although a little goes a long way and the crackers get boring very quickly. I'm not usually a fan of salt (unless it's on crisps or chips) but it works really well to draw the flavours out of what I think would be a pretty dull cracker without it.
You can add any toppings you fancy, I usually play it safe with a tiny thin scrape of butter and a slice of cheese (maybe a bit of pickle if I'm feeling adventurous). I was just absolutely stumped at ideas for toppings so have texted random people for their suggestions and here's what I've had back:
Charlotte - Philadelphia and cold sausage
Alice - Butter
Sarah - Nutella (apparently the salt goes well with the chocolate)
Ashley - Tuna mayo with sweatcorn [sic]
Andy - Brie and bacon, microwaved for 30 seconds (which sounds delicious!)
Mark - Pilchards
Some different ideas there, nothing I'd have ever thought of myself but I suppose they make the whole TUC experience a bit more interesting. I can't eat too many dry even though that's how I prefer them because they make me thirsty quickly, this is down to both the texture and the saltiness of the cracker but if it was any different it wouldn't be a TUC.
I found an alternative use for a TUC cracker recently, crumble some up and add to your crumble mix when cooking apple crumble - it's mad but something about the savoury salty biscuit brings out the sweetness of the apple and takes away every last trace of bitterness. You could even crumble them into bran muffin mix before baking to add a different flavour to an otherwise distinctly dull snack.
Looking at the nutritional info is as weird as the flavour of TUC biscuits, simply because the numbers themselves look so small but these are very fattening snacks considering how many the average TUC lover can demolish at once! Charlotte (the TUC fiend of the house) can get through a whole packet over the course of a day, and that is a huge amount of calories and a ridiculously high level of fat. I'm not worried about my own consumption as when it comes to TUC I can't stomach eating too many at a time, but these little biccies are surprisingly deceptive as you could even think of them as the healthy option when really you'd have probably been better off going for that bag of crisps after all!
TUC are definitely overrated. They're yummy when they happen to be there just at the right time for me fancying a TUC, which isn't often really as they just don't hit the spot for me. Unless we're talking about the 'thirsty spot'!
I have little time for 'savoury' snacks - probably because I'm usually too busy eating their non-savoury and frequently chocolately brethren. There are however a selection of savoury morsels that can be found in my biscuit tin / cupboard at any given time - one is 'Jacob's Cream Crackers' (or a supermarket branded equivalent), and the other is 'TUC Original Snack Crackers' - another product of the Jacob's range. Jacob's have been making biscuits since 1881 when William Beale Jacob and his brother Robert opened their bakery in Waterford Ireland. Fast forward three decades, and things turned a little sour for the company... without dwelling too greatly on the facts, figures, and dates, Jacob's split into two factions, with one half based in Dublin, and the other based in London. It wasn't until 1990 that the two sides reunited and became 'Jacob's Biscuit Group' - phew, peace in the biscuitery. But enough about the trials and tribulations of the company, let's give Jacob's TUC Original Snack Crackers a thorough test.
PRICE & AVAILABILITY - expensive or cheap?
The standard 150g packet of TUC Original can be purchased for £1.05 from all the major supermarkets, and is widely available from a range of smaller retailers throughout the country. But how does the price compare to the other savoury biscuit options? Well, TUC are fairly pricey at 70p per 100g - especially when you consider the fact that regular Jacob's Cream Crackers come to 32.5p per 100g, and Jacob's 'Cheddars' are 62.7p per 100g. Overall then, TUC Original are a little more costly than the other options which are competing for your hard earned cash, but is it a price worth paying? - read on to find out whether they are worth the extra cost.
PACKAGING DESIGN - pimp my package
TUC Original Snack Crackers arrive in a plastic wrapper which is easy to open by means of a quick tear to the perforated section at either end. Due to the amount of yellow in the packaging, for many years I assumed that TUC Original was a cheese-based biscuit, similar to the aforementioned 'Cheddar'. Of course, it isn't, although there is a TUC 'Cheese Sandwich' version available which costs the same amount (but tastes pretty awful if you ask me!). The photo on the packaging depicts a number of the biscuits layered on top of each other, falling back into the distance, and the TUC logo sits proudly in white type over a blue rectangle. A small label on the front displays the nutritional information per biscuit (more on that later), whilst the back shows the ingredients, web address, and allergy advice. All in all, the design is pretty much standard for a product of this nature - not especially inviting or inspiring, yet able to provide all the relevant information to the buyer in an effective manner. Especially good (for the environmentally enlightened) is the fact that the packet is by no means excessive, and there seems to be no wasted materials in evidence.
INGREDIENTS - what is inside the humble TUC?
TUC Original Snack Crackers contain;
Wheat Flour, Vegetable Oil, Glucose Syrup, Malt Extract, Egg, Raising Agents (Ammonium Carbonate, Sodium Carbonate), Salt, Milk, and Flour Treatment Agent (Sodium Metabisulphite).
In all honesty, the ingredient list which is shown above does not appear to include anything that is out of the ordinary for a savoury snack - but as always, I'm keen to check out any potentially controversial inclusions, and confirm or dispel any possible health concerns. The name that immediately jumps out is probably the 'Flour Treatment Agent' in the form of Sodium Metabisulphite (also referred to as E223) - an additive which is frequently used in a wide range of foods. Of course, any scientific sounding ingredient is usually looked upon with distrust, but Sodium Metabisulphite is generally classed as harmless, although it may cause allergic reactions in those who are sensitive to sulfites. Also present is 'Ammonium Carbonate' which is basically a commercial salt that is frequently used when crushed as a smelling salt. In the context of the crackers, it's used as an agent to help the product rise slightly, a bit like baking soda would - again, it's not really anything to be concerned about.
APPEARANCE, AROMA, & TASTE - an enjoyable biscuit?
The biscuits are rectangular in shape and measure 6.5 centimetres on the longer side - they're around the same size as a playing card, and definitely more tasty. If I've counted correctly there's around twenty five in each pack (OK, I admit, I lost count as I began eating them, so there may be a few more). Rather than reaching a natural corner as regular rectangles are accustomed to, the edges are taken off at an angle - like someone has had a bit of a nibble. The upper surface of the biscuit features a series of decorative holes (which are formed to spell TUC), and is an inviting golden brown in colour. I say 'decorative' holes, but in hindsight, they probably aid the baking process in some way.
TUC's have no real aroma - the slight smell that they do produce is fairly neutral and difficult to distinguish. From a taste perspective however, the flavour is delicious, one of the only savoury biscuits that I can eat on its own without adding any sort of butter or spread. Describing the taste is actually a tricky thing to do - and I would probably start by saying that the biscuits are perhaps a direct cross between a pretzel and a Jacob's Cream Cracker - it's also like a Jacob's Cheddar, but without the cheddar if that makes sense. Unlike Cream Crackers, TUC biscuits won't obliterate every ounce of moisture from the mouth, and feature a general butteriness which is especially pleasant. In terms of the downside, you do occasionally get a slightly burned TUC in the packet, cooked beyond the point of reasonable doubt, and featuring a taste which isn't quite as pleasant as its biscuity comrades. Similarly, there are normally a few over salted biscuits in each packet which detract from the taste, and can quickly make the eater rather thirsty. The texture however is spot on - extremely crunchy yet melt-in-the-mouth at the same time - it's a really moreish eating experience, and one TUC will inevitably lead to another. The biscuits leave you with slightly greasy fingers, which i'm sure has something to do with the amount of oil in each one - let's look at the nutritional info...
NUTRITIONAL INFO PER BISCUIT - how much weight will I put on!?
Calories: 24 (1% of an adult's guideline daily amount)
Fat: 1.3g (2% of an adult's guideline daily amount)
Saturated Fat: 1.0g (5% of an adult's guideline daily amount)
Sugar: 0.3g (<1% of an adult's guideline daily amount)
Salt: 0.1 (2% of an adult's guideline daily amount)
The figures shown above may on first glance appear to be pretty much as standard for a savoury biscuit - however, there is one particular statistic which raises the alarm bells. The saturated fat content is rather high for what is essentially one small baked bit of flour and egg. Eat just ten of these tasty morsels (it's very easy to do, believe me) and you've consumed 50% of your guideline amount of Saturates - it all adds up pretty quickly. Eat the whole packet (anything's possible with me), and you'll transfer a whopping 33 grams of Saturates to your daily intake, which works out at 165% of an adult's guideline daily amount. The calorie count per biscuit is acceptable, but I still wouldn't recommend eating too many in one go - similarly, the sugar levels are pretty negligible. In terms of the allergy advice, the biscuits contain egg, gluten, sulphates, and *may* contain sesame seeds and milk.
FINAL WORD - the all-important conclusion
If I were to draw up a league table of savoury biscuits based on taste alone, then TUC Original Snack Crackers would be sitting pretty at the pinnacle - I'm honestly happy to eat the biscuits straight from the packet, which isn't something you could normally do with other savoury snack crackers (unless you're willing to risk having an incredibly dry mouth). The crackers are similarly good with a nice slab of Cheddar Cheese proudly sitting atop, and if you're feeling particularly adventurous, perhaps a generous dollop of Branston Pickle. However, a perfect biscuit isn't just something that tastes nice, for me, it has to be a *fairly* healthy without containing masses of salt, calories, or saturated fat. Unfortunately, TUC's fall foul on the latter count, and the amount of Saturates alone is enough to make me think twice about making the initial purchase. Similarly, the biscuits can be a little too salty, and I would prefer it if Jacob's went a little easier on the seasoning. All in all though, I would recommend TUC Original Snack Crackers as a tasty occasional snack which beats the competition from a flavour perspective. I was all set to award the crackers four shiny dooyoo stars, but the unhealthy nature of the product has reduced the final total to three.
MISCELLANEOUS INFO - wrapping up the loose ends...
The Jacob's website is currently undergoing development, so at present there's no real online presence for TUC Snack Crackers - however, it's no great loss, as these food sites are generally dull affairs. Oh, and in case you were wondering, 'TUC' is said to stand for 'Trade Union Conference', a name read from a billboard when manufacturers were struggling for ideas for a biscuit name... seems a little odd if you ask me, but hey, that's the story!
These are always the packet that I find lying around my mum's house along with a Ryvita packet. She is the type to try and snack on healthier things than cakes and biscuits. However she never really seems to take into account that piling the Tuc crackers and Ryvitas with cheese probably makes them slightly worse than cakes and biscuits in my opinion.
------------------- Jacob's Tuc Cracker's Taste --------------------
I have never had a love for crackers but if I see them left somewhere around my mum's house I will usually be tempted to have one out of the packet. The only thing that I smoother the crackers in is butter which might seem quite boring but I am not a cheese lover and I cannot see what else you might put on a cracker. However it must be said not to put salted butter on the crackers or else you will have an overload of salt in the couple of bites it takes to eat a Tuc cracker. We do not have unsalted butter in the house though so I use slightly salted butter on them to make them almost perfect. I still find the initial hit of salt from the cracker a little overpowering but as you eat more of the cracker and perhaps move onto your second one like I usually do without even noticing then your taste buds seem to get used to the salt hit. The Tuc Crackers do not have a smell in my opinion but when you first open the packet you get a smell like plain digestive biscuits mixed with ready salted crisps that hits you.
The only other type of cracker which I can compare the Tuc Cracker to is the Ritz crackers which is a little better known in the UK. However the Tuc Cracker is once again more salty than the Ritz cracker. But if you have tried a Ritz cracker then you will have an idea what the Tuc Cracker tastes like.
------------------- Why Jacob's Tuc Crackers? ----------------------
I have never been sure what made my Mum always purchase the Tuc crackers over other crackers on the market but I did ask her a few days ago and her response was that she had them as a child so had never had the urge to try any others because she loves them. Which to me sounded like a perfectly sound reason.
---------------- What Jacob's Tuc Cracker's Look Like? ------------------
They are a light yellowy gold/ beige colour and they are rectangular shaped crackers with a strange corner cut off the top of each side. They also have small holes which spell out Tuc across the cracker, so they are easily recognisable as being Jacob's Tuc Crackers.
--------------------- Jacob's Tuc Cracker's Packaging ----------------------
The crackers come in a very eye catching bright yellow packet which can be very easily opened. The name Tuc is written in block white writing with a blue, bubble background.
---- -Jacob's Tuc Cracker's Dietary Information, Ingredients and Nutrition ------
These Tuc Crackers are suitable for vegetarians and contain Wheat Flour, Vegetable Oil, Glucose Syrup, Malt Extract, Egg, Raising Agents, Salt (which is certainly not a surprise), Milk, Flour Treatment Agent.
Per each biscuit there is 100kJ of energy, 0.3g of protein, 2.8g of carbohydrates, 1.3g of fat, 0.1g of dietary fibre and a trace of sodium.
So they are the perfect elevenses snack giving a small burst of energy per cracker.
----------- Jacob's Tuc Cracker's Price and Location of Buying ----------
These can be bought in most large supermarkets like Tesco, Sainsburys, Co-op, Costcutter, Waitrose, Somerfield, Asda and I have even seen them in my local Marks and Spencers since they have been doing other branded foods. The original Tuc Crackers that I am reviewing here cost £1.05 for 150g.
Other variations of Jacob's Tuc Crackers include:
- Tuc Cheese Sandwich
- Tuc Salt and Pepper
- Tuc Paprika
- Tuc Barbecue
- + There are many more... so everybody is bound to find one that they love
From what I have seen on the shelves of Tesco's these other types cost the same price as the original Tuc Crackers which I was quite surprised to see, I thought the variations would be slightly dearer in price.
----------- Jacob's Tuc Cracker's History and a Bit About Jacob too! -----------
Jacob's is the overall brand name of these Tuc Crackers. Jacob's was established in 1885 so have been going for a good 125 years so in my opinion are a trusted brand name. Jacob's is short for Jacob Fruitfield Food Group.
The name Tuc was established by being abbreviated from the name 'Trades Union Congress' which is extremely random because they could not come up with a name.
Jacob's have that very well known branded symbol which contains the name 'Jacob's' in white block capitals over a black diamond shaped background.
Jacob's Crackers are the best selling crackers in the UK. The brand Jacob's is under the branded snacking business called United Biscuits (UB) which includes other brands like McVitie's and KP.This business enables financial and environmental support to the brand, helping to drive the brand to make an enormous turnover each year. For more information visit http://www.unitedbiscuits.com/
---------------------- Overall ---------------------------
You cannot beat a great cracker, there are numerous occasions for crackers including a snack for elevenses or in our house Tuc Crackers always come out at Christmas and dinner parties too after the main meal.
One factor I must point out though is that once the packet is opened if you would like to keep them in tip-top snacking condition then place them in an air-tight container or tin. My mum always fails to do this so whenever I take one out of a packet in her house I always dig underneath the first couple of crackers to make sure I am getting a fresh one!
So despite not being a cracker fan I can usually get through at least five without even noticing I have - so they do have a slight addictive quality!
Jacobs Tuc Original Snack Crackers
Tuc crackers are made by Jacob Fruitfield Food Group (Jacob's) and were named, apparently, after the Trade Union Congress. According to the company that makes them, they were launching the biscuits in the UK and didn't have a name for them. They saw a billboard advertising the Trade Union Congress where it was shortened to TUC and at the last minute decided to name their new snack after this. In early American advertising they were referred to as 'The Uncommon Cracker'.
They are available in eight different varieties including a mini version as well as a couple of hot and spicy versions and a paprika variety, but this review is about the original and, in my opinion, still the best version of these crackers.
Ingredients / Nutritional Information
Ingredients; wheat flour, vegetable oil, glucose syrup, barley malt extract, liquid whole egg, salt, raising agents (ammonium bicarbonate, sodium bicarbonate), flour treatment agent (sodium sulphite)
Nutritional Information (per cracker (5g)); Calories: 24, Protein: 0.3, Carbohydrate: 2.8, Fat: 1.3, Fibre: 0.1
Tuc crackers come in a stack of approximately thirty crackers wrapped in plastic as do most crackers to be honest. The plastic is mainly yellow in colour and has a blue 'Tuc shape' on top of about ten Tuc crackers fanned out like a deck of cards, on top of this is the Tuc name. Just below this it tells you the flavour, in this case 'original' and to the other end of the packet there is the rather nice slogan 'Tuc in', on the other side of the packaging is the normal info as listed above, ingredients etc. and the ends of the packaging are finished almost like a sweet wrapper, being loose and pulled away from the crackers and crimped together. The packaging has remained almost the same over the years and although it is now an unmissable sight on the supermarket shelves and does not really need to be changed, I find it a bit bland really and a little un-thought about almost as if they dreamed it up as quickly as the name.
The crackers are rectangular in shape, with the corners cut off, and each one displays the name 'Tuc' made up of small pin-pricks in the centre of the biscuit. These are not just for show, they also serve the purpose of preventing bubbles during baking, they are a sort of creamy yellow colour. They can be eaten on their own or with a range of toppings including cheese, cold meat, pate etc. and I prefer them topped with something as this normally compliments the flavour and I find them just a little plain on their own.
When you first bite into a Tuc cracker, whether topped or un-topped, you get an instant salty taste, or hit, which is really nice and not too much, the salty taste seems to rub onto your tongue and stay there for a second making your mouth water and then it changes to a more mild and almost sweet and buttery aftertaste. The texture is different to most other crackers too, in that they are quite soft and crumble quite nicely into your mouth, without cracking and breaking up all over the place which I personally find quite annoying at times.
Summing up then, would I recommend Tuc crackers? Yes I definitely would, they are a really tasty alternative to so many other crackers out there as well as being easier to eat and much less messy in my view. I like them, mainly, with cheese and pickle, but they are nice with almost any topping you can think of, try a big dollop of cream cheese and a slice of fresh chilli for a kick, they are also nice with ham and tomato as well as still being fairly enjoyable on their own. Full marks from me and a must have when getting the cheese board out in my opinion.
They are readily available at all good supermarkets and most smaller, Spar type, stores for around about the pound mark, which is about average for a packet of branded savory biscuits. This price is for a 150g packet (approximately thirty biscuits) and they are only available in Europe, North America and North Arfica currently. However I also noticed they are available on ebay for £1.49 from one enterprising seller who will also ship them worldwide and only charges the postage to your country out at cost, I am not sure how a packet of these would fare in the postal system as they are quite delicate really and would need to be very well packaged, but it shows you can now enjoy them worldwide if you wish too!
Thanks For Reading, Also On Ciao, John