Iced Gems were one of my favourite treats as a little kid, I used to spend ages eating each packet making them last as long as I could. I hadn't bought them for a few years but then when I came across them a few weeks ago I just had to buy them.
For those of you who don't know what an Iced Gem is I shall explain, it is basically a circular biscuit about 1.5cm's in diameter, the biscuit is plain and the colour of rich tea biscuits but not the same taste. The icing on the top is made of sugar and egg so it's sort of like a hardened meringue really rather than icing. It is the best bit and comes in a variety of colours; pink, purple and yellow. The icing bit is a triangle shape with a twist in it as though it's been done with an icing bag. They are really tasty and very unhealthy as they are full of sugar.
When you bite into them they can be very hard because as I've said the icing is hard so be careful. Some people like to eat them whole whereas others prefer to get the icing off and eat it separately to the biscuit. The biscuit doesn't really taste of much but that doesn't matter the focus is on the icing. It's very sweet and is meant to taste of raspberry, blackcurrant and lemon, they do taste of these things faintly but the main taste is sweetness, they are definitely a teeth rotter.
They have been around for ages, almost 100 years and used to be widely spread but now they can be very hard to get hold of, they normally cost about £1 for a bag of 6 packets in which you get about 15 little Iced Gems.
My future mother-in-law is a gem. Somehow she always manages to provide me exactly with what I am looking for. I tell her about my fear of flying, she comes up with Bachs Rescue Remedy. I am looking for Mr. Right, she provides me with my fiancé. I am looking for a low-calorie snack to satisfy my sweet tooth with she comes up with
When I first spotted these little gems in her kitchen, I was not attracted to them very much. The primarily blue and white packaging frankly looks cheap with its Tesco shopping bag-like plastic. It is decorated like something that looks like it came out a 4-year-olds colouring book sporting a simple bear with sunglasses serving up an iced gem on his paw. The bag tells you that you can collect up to 12 different games and activities these are imprinted on the outside of the six smaller individual bags contained within the main bag. These games are indeed aimed at 4-year-olds, as they involve such simple tasks as spotting four differences between pictures, copying a picture into a box and finding your way through a maze. Before writing this review, I have eaten about 25 individual bags of these iced gems and I have yet to find 12 different games, they all rather look the same to me.
Each of the individual bags contains about 20-25 little gems. making up 30g in volume. The biscuits themselves are little jewels. With a base no bigger than the size of a pound coin in both diameter and thickness, they are crowned with divine pikes of sugar in white, yellow, pink and an orange-like colour. Just the kind of thing tat children and grown-ups love to nibble on.
I think what always baffled me a little is the fact that these biscuits are labelled as fruit flavoured iced biscuits and then the individual bags depict the lemon, raspberry and blackcurrant flavoured biscuits. No mention is made of the little plain white iced gem (although it is pictured on the main bag) which indeed seems to make it a little bit of an intruder in this bag of gems.
The biscuit itself tastes rather plain, like a babys teething biscuit or a plain salt-less cracker. It has a hint of sweetness to it, but this is so subtle that it is hardly noticeable. The way I like to eat my gems is by first separating the biscuit from the iced gem with my teeth. I then chew the biscuit until it is mushy and finally disappears. Afterwards I tend to simply let the sugary topping dissolve on my tongue.
The contrast of the sugary topping and the plain biscuit is quite nice it gives you the opportunity to get a hit of sweetness which can then be neutralised by eating the biscuit base from the next gem.
The individual flavours are very diverse. The outsider, as I have come to term the white-crowned gem, tastes no different from your ordinary meringue nest simply like icing sugar that has been hardened by adding egg white. It is probably my least favourite gem out of them all.
The lemon-flavoured gem is of a light citron colour and has the reputation for being the most refreshing of all the flavours. For those of you who loathe lemon due to its sourness, there is nothing to worry about. The flavour is indeed very subtle, less apparent even than in a lemon wine gum.
The raspberry-flavoured gem is orange in colour and rather odd in nature, although I find it very tasty. Like the lemon-flavoured biscuit, it lacks the distinct sourness that you would experience when eating fresh raspberries. For those of you who tend to sprinkle sugar on their raspberries, it will be simple to relate to the flavour of this little gem. In essence it tastes like a concentrate of the sugary water that forms on the bottom of the bowl of raspberries when left to seep in for a little while.
The blackcurrant-flavoured gem is dark pink in colour and probably my favourite if all gems, even though it tastes nothing like a real blackcurrant. The taste is probably very familiar to most readers, as it distinctly reminds the nibbler of Ribena.
Each bag varies in terms of content and in terms of content and in terms of the number of each of the four different types of gems. I have generally found that the white intruder is the scarcest among them all. The lemon-flavoured gem also seems to be of limited presence clearly outweighed by its blackcurrant and raspberry siblings.
These gems make for great snacks if you have a craving for something sweet, as they only contain 116 calories per bag and less than 1g of fat. Allergy sufferers should be warned, however, that the biscuits contain wheat and milk and have been produced in a factory handling soy, egg and hazelnut.
One thing, however, that really annoys me about these biscuits is the fact that they have a tendency to crumble very easily and as such you will rarely get a bag of gems that are all intact. Instead you will get your share of biscuits without icing, icing without biscuits and random crumbs of icing and biscuits, which I enjoy much less that the intact specimens.
***Price and availability***
Iced gems are available from most major supermarkets and at a bargain price of either at 98p (e.g. Sainsburys) or 99p (e.g. Iceland). They are only available in a package containing the six individual smaller bags they cannot be bought individually.
Iced gems have now found themselves a permanent place in my kitchen cupboard. I tend to take a bag of these to work with me as an afternoon treat along with my cup of tea or pack them as a guilt-free treat when I go to the cinema. Occasionally, I do get bored wit them and crave a bigger sugar and fat rush. This ultimately leads to me opting for unhealthier snacks but generally these little gems have developed a friendship with my taste buds and stomach that I predict will last forever.
P.O. Box 14
Liverpool L9 7JX
Freephone: 08081 449454
My children love to share a packet of Iced gems, if Im lucky or they may insist on a whole packet each which means the packet of 6 mini packets isnt going to last long. I have also been know to allow my daughter to take them to school as I feel they are better than actual sweets which are a no-go for school lunches as far as I am concerned.
Anyway after getting them delivered from tescos at a cost of 98p for a packet containing 6 individual 30g bags, I decided they could spare me one bag for me, all me and nobody but me.
This particular packet came with some free stickers to collect which I found inside once opening the main packet. Made by Jacobs Biscuits, est 1885, the packaging is a mainly blue and white packet with ICED GEMS in bold capitals below which is a picture of a white bear holding up an iced gem with purple icing on top. On the reverse and sides is the ingredients and nutritional information. More about this later. There is also a letter aimed at children from Topper the Bear. It informs the reader that there are stickers to collect, what Topper has done with his stickers and tell you of some of his adventures. Very appealing to the children.
I am also informed to:
Store in a cool, dry place, and once opened, in an airtight container.
Do they know how long these things last once they are opened? I know how long they last in my house and theyd never make it to an airtight container.
The packaging follows exactly the same colours as the main packaging which is blue and white showing a picture of Topper bear skateboarding holding yet purple iced gem. On the reverse of the individual packet there is a simple nature crossword for any interested children to complete.
As I said, each packet holds 30gms which is approx 20 biscuits, 17 of which are are complete, there are 3 biscuits without the top icing attached and 8 loose bits of icing. Now I dont have to be a genius to work out there is more icing than biscuits, so I feel they could have been presented better. Of the 17 complete unbroken ones, there is 3 orange iced gems, 2 yellow, 3 pink and 7 purple ones.
The front of the packaging informs me that the pink ones are raspberry flavour which after tasting some loose pink icing, yes they do taste of raspberry.
The purple one is meant to be blackcurrant flavour, which again, I think it does but it not as easily identified as the raspberry.
The yellow one is lemon flavoured and again just recognisable, it is more of a sweet taste, and is only mildly recognisable as lemon or citrus flavour.
As the packaging doesnt inform me what the orange is meant to taste of but after tasting it, I would say it does taste of oranges so I dont know why they didnt include that one on the packaging, but anyway.
The biscuits are very small, approximately 2cm in diameter, and reasonably hard to bite into. They are quite sweet when eaten on their own without the icing.
Eaten with the icing, it is quite a bite through the biscuit and icing together. I cant say there is a lot to identify between the different flavours when eaten with the biscuits, the raspberry one is perhaps the easiest flavour to define.
I cannot say that there is anything of a smell to them other than a bit of a sweet smell. Nothing very distinctive anyway.
***Did I enjoy my secret stash of Iced gems?***
Yes, I did enjoy them but then I enjoy anything sweet, but thats as far as it goes. I wouldnt go mad for another packet. I think they are far more appealing to the age that they are marketed for, children. I have used them at childrens parties, and I still buy them as a snack item for my children now. I know they love eating them and for that reason alone, I will still buy Iced gems for them.
I do think though that they could put a bit more into the presentation, I accept that some will break in transporting them to my doorstep. For me, when you see broken biscuits with lots of extra spare icing tops, it just confirms that they have been dropped into the packet by a machine. I know this happens, but I would of thought it would be better for presentation that they dont just throw any number of bits in.
Each 30 gram bag will provide:-
Energy .116 kcal
Protein .1.5 g
Of which sugars ..15.2g
Of which saturates 0.3g
Dietary Fibre ...0.5g
Made by Jacobs
The Jacobs Bakery Limited
PO Box 14
Freephone: 08081 449454
First published on Ciao under my other name of Craggsy23