Are English Digestive biscuits food or medicine?

I’ve always assumed English Digestive biscuits had sodium bicarbonate or some other antacid in them. The Brits eat these digestive biscuits much like we chew Tums or Rolaids.

A colleague swears they are just sugar cookies.

What’s the truth?

They are not sugar cookies, they are a sweetish biscuit. I think they will serve them with tea, but I’ve always been bad an never gotten afternoon tea when I’m there.

They can also have chocolate coating on them, which I happen to like.

Edit: They do seem to have sodium bicarbonate in them. I always eat them like a normal cookie, multiple at a time.

They are just sweetish biscuits/sugar cookies. Quite nice with cheese, although some would disagree.

There’s some reason they were first called “digestive” but I can’t recall it right now.

Ooh, yes, the ones with chocolate on are nice.

I have not got any. :frowning:

Actually, I think it was a question of digestive biscuits and whether there was a USA equivalent that first brought me to the SDMB.

Food. Nothing medicinal about them.

Looks like I’m buying lunch for my colleague. I may take him to a spicy Mexican place. Offer a digestive biscuit later. LOL

Thanks for clearing up my ignorance of British deserts.

The closest American equivalent would be graham crackers, I would say. They’re not quite the same thing, but it’s in the general ballpark. I personally don’t think a sugar cookie is a good analog. They are a different texture and not anywhere near as sweet as one (at least the ones I’ve had.) If you have a decent selection of foreign food in your supermarket, you might be able to find Maria cookies by Goya, which are more similar. You’ll also find similar biscuits/cookies in other countries, like petit beurres in France, herbatniki in Poland, butterkeks in Germany, etc. (though often the British ones aren’t butter-based, AFAIK.)

Aren’t they pretty high in fiber? Maybe they’re “digestive” in the sense of the very end of the process?

A British ex of mine often made reference to having something sweet after a meal because the sugar helped with the digestive process. I never knew if that has any truth to it or if it’s common misconception where he grew up but it made me interpret digestive biscuits as light sweets to eat after a meal for that purpose (as opposed to being a proper dessert).

McVitie’s Digestive Biscuits, looking it up, have one gram of fiber per five biscuits so, no, that doesn’t seem to be the case. I just assumed it was called that because they’re pretty bland and easy to digest, like if you were having digestion issues, you would just eat toast and water. Same sort of thing. But, apparently, according to Wikipedia and its sources, they are called such because they were believed to have antacid properties at one time.

I’ve had a ton (maybe literally?) of Maria cookies, and I can see why something like that might be called digestive. They are bland to the point of disappearing from your memory. You can munch on them without much effect except for getting filled up. They’re 22 calories per cookie, so you can have several without spoiling your girlish figure (mine was destroyed by other things). Altogether innocuous.

I’ve never seen a chocolate covered one, probably for the best, they would no longer be innocuous.

The King of Biscuits. Plain ones over chocolate covered one’s any day of the week. I never assumed them to be medicine but half convinced myself they had some sort of nutritional value over other biscuits. I had no evidence for this other than they look kinda ordinary & wholesome.

Chocolate ones are nice, but plain ones with lashings of butter on top is where it’s at! To clarify for those in America, the chocolate coating is only on the bottom of the biscuit, they’re not completely enrobed.

The name digestive does originally come from the idea that they had an antacid affect via the bicarbonate in the recipe. That was the intention of the inventors anyway. I don’t know how long that idea lasted, but it’s just treated as a semi-seeet biscuit (cookie) now.

FYI, crushed up digestives make a great cheesecake base. :smiley:

I’m guessing, but it wouldn’t surprise me if in the days of lax regulation of advertising they were sold on the implied premise that there was something healthier than the competition about them.

But I’ve never heard of anyone eating them as some sort of medicine. They might, perhaps, be all one feels one can risk eating after an intestinal upset or a hangover (or to stave off between-meal peckishness) , but that could apply just as well to ginger nuts, rich tea, Nice biscuits or a piece of plain toast.

Mine have always had the chocolate at the top.

THIS x1000

Can I just mention that I got some McVities Nibbles at Aldi the other day. These are biscuit balls, covered in chocolate. Any delusions of medicinal gone, completely gone. :smiley: You can’t fool yourself with these.

This came up on last week’s episode of QI, and has been part of a few “Did You Know…” type web articles in the last year or so.

If you look at a plain Digestive, it’s pretty clear which way up it’s meant to be: the bottom is flat, with an imprint of the grid it’s baked on, while the top is more rounded, and has writing and often some design imprinted on it.

Chocolate Digestives have the chocolate on the flat side, and the side with the writing is uncoated. Therefore, the chocolate is on the bottom of the biscuit. This has been confirmed by McVities — that’s how they make them.

Nobody ever serves Chocolate Digestives chocolate-down, though, so obviously the only correct way to eat them is upside-down.

We don’t really have any deserts, as we have quite a lot of rain. :smiley:

The bicarb is a leavening agent. They’re delicious.