Do you know Tunnock's Tea Cakes?

·6 min read

I just love learning about new things, especially when they are old.

A friend of mine posted this photo of Tunnock's Milk Chocolate Tea Cakes on social media Saturday night. He said the Thanksgiving necessities had arrived.

Tunnock's Milk Chocolate Tea Cakes from Scotland have not changed their packaging from this quaint look.
Tunnock's Milk Chocolate Tea Cakes from Scotland have not changed their packaging from this quaint look.

The box was disarmingly nostalgic and I had to learn more.

I found their website. There I learned the Tunnock's Teacake has been made in Scotland since 1890 and they are popular throughout the United Kingdom. I've watched enough of "The Great British Baking Show" to know about that love of biscuits and tea cakes.

But what is Tunnock's? It's a chocolate-coated treat with a biscuit base. Between the biscuit and the chocolate is a dome is created by Italian meringue and a whipped egg white and butter mixture that creates a texture similar to marshmallow. But there is no gelatin so it's vegetarian, like my friend who bought them.

He sent me a 2015 video featuring the third generation owner Boyd Tunnock, 77, talking about the family business. It also includes action video of the tea cakes and other products being made.

Boyd said he was so pleased to make something people want to buy.

"Tea cakes are so nice and easy to eat, people love them," he said as he removed the wrapping from one and inspected it to show that the chocolate was all nicely sealed.

They resemble Nabisco Mallomars which are made with marshmallow. But I've learned these are far better.

Now that I was educated about Tunnock's, I had to ask my friend why he ordered a display case of these.

Of course, it started with a trip. He had them on his first visit to Scotland with his wife.

This is the rest of his story.

"I have a bizarre, inexplicable love for food brands that don’t update their packaging to suit modern tastes, and style. (Think Jiffy Cornbread mix, One-Pie canned pie mix).

The novelty that these look like such a throwback meant I had to buy one, and it was delicious. It’s been an ongoing affection since then."

He promised to drop a couple off for me to try. They are sweet and fun and you can see one up close here. It's not the best photo but it shows the proportions.

The inside of a Tunnock's.
The inside of a Tunnock's.

I have to say, it is a delicious treat. I'm not a huge marshmallow fan (except in hot chocolate). This filling texture is quite a bit more pleasing and not sickly sweet. The biscuit had a snap and their homemade chocolate covering is light and lovely. It also comes in the very modern flavor of dark chocolate.

Mine are coming in the mail Monday. Yay!

I'm not going to lie, I had a good cry after talking to Debbie Wood. The businesswoman is so inspiring. I expect many will feel the same after they read about how she wanted a good life for her adult son Jason. He has autism, apraxia and limited speech.

She focused on what he was loved, which was jams. She built a business that is his around jams. She had to navigate all sorts of issues. But she did.

I know not everyone has the strength of this Mom, or the support of her husband, Jason's Dad. But she says her job isn't finished when she's tired, it's finished when it's done.

She also talked about how much less expensive care of people with disabilities would be if there was investment in them and their futures. I couldn't agree more.

I think she is a role model for those just starting a journey with a child who has disabilities. And for the rest of us, too. Jason's jam shop is also a social enterprise business that donates to K-9 police units. She's also contributing to a therapeutic horse riding program.

More: We Be Jammin': In Warwick, this businessman with autism is running a six-figure business

Debbie Wood helped her son start a successful jam shop in Warwick  called We Be Jammin'.
Debbie Wood helped her son start a successful jam shop in Warwick called We Be Jammin'.

People love their diners and so I was glad to profile four in Rhode Island that are on the National Register of Historic Places.

I've loved eating at all four over time. Each one has their own unique menu. Two, the Miss Lorraine and West Side Diner, are run by Mike Arena and have all day breakfast plus Italian specialties. They deliver comfort.

The Modern Diner has a menu that was created by father and son chefs and also reflects the foods of their Portuguese neighbors. The specials here are posted daily inside the door and are full of variety.

Jigger's has always been the upscale version of the diner with a menu of local and farm fresh food. The new owner is continuing that trend.

I also love telling the stories of these well traveled dining cars. It's so great that they were rescued and renovated and will go on for another generation. The bad news is that a fifth piece of art, Central Diner, sits bordered up on Elmwood Avenue. It needs an angel to bring it bsck and make it thrive.

See my favorite dish at the Modern? It's outrageous and wonderful.

The Modern Diner's version of French toast sits on a pool of custard and is crowned with fresh fruit and raspberry sauce.
The Modern Diner's version of French toast sits on a pool of custard and is crowned with fresh fruit and raspberry sauce.

Of course, one thinks a lot about giving thanks this week. I'm thankful for my daughter born 29 years ago today. How lucky I was to have a Thanksgiving baby.

Such great blessings are never to be taken for granted. My parents and my faith, not to mention the Sisters of Saint Joseph who taught me for 12 years, have always echoed the same sentiment - There but for the grace of God, go I. That's why it's important to me to share my good luck.

One way I do that is to support Amos House with an annual financial donation. Having a meal and shelter are things every person deserves. The Providence non-profit helps make that happen with dignity.

In fact, they deal in hope.

Amos House is Rhode Island's largest soup kitchen, feeding more than 150,000 a year. They also provide emergency, transitional, and permanent supportive housing for more than 300 persons a night.

With job training, social services and a recovery-based shelter program, they change lives, too

If I hadn't been born under such a lucky star, I could be any one of the people looking for the help Amos House offers. Writing a check from our family seems like the least we can do.

I wish all of you a blessed holiday season. As I do, I hope all the lucky among you can do the same for the charity of your choice.

If you don't have one, check out the work they do at Amos House at amoshouse.com. Your support won't go to waste.

This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Tunnock's Tea Cakes are an old-fashioned treat from Scotland.