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Saturday, May 20, 2023

the story of Marie biscuit - Russian connection !!

Are you rich or poor !  - when someone talks about Biscuit, if your mind wanders of that glistening yellow metal ! and the nos. you have – you are !! – and if one thinks of the brittle famous (or otherwise) crackers that you relish with cup of hot tea – you are !! 


For most Indians, a cup of chai is incomplete without its compulsory partner –   Marie biscuits.  Marie is ubiquitous in over 40 countries, with India being one of the most popular markets for this biscuit.  Though the sound Brittania, brittania marie would ring in mind, there exist several Marie biscuit brands, -  Parle, Britannia, ITC Sunfeast, McVitie’s, Patanjali,   Bonn, Anmol,   Priyagold and .. .. more.  Interestingly, in a blind test where people were served different brands of Marie biscuits, not many were able to find out the brands by their taste !!  

Maria Alexandrovna of Russia (1853 -1920) was the fifth child and only surviving daughter of Emperor Alexander II of Russia and Princess Marie of Hesse and by Rhine; she was Duchess of Edinburgh and later Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha as the wife of Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. She was the younger sister of Alexander III of Russia and the paternal aunt of Russia's last emperor, Nicholas II. 

In 1874, Maria married Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, the second son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha; she was the only Romanov to marry into the British royal family. The couple had five children: Alfred, Marie, Victoria Melita, Alexandra, and Beatrice. For the first years of her marriage, Maria lived in England. She neither adapted to the British court nor overcame her dislike for her adopted country. She accompanied her husband on his postings as an admiral of the Royal Navy at Malta and Devonport.  The Duchess of Edinburgh travelled extensively through Europe. She visited her family in Russia frequently and stayed for long periods in England and Germany attending social and family events. 

In August 1893, Maria became Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha when her husband inherited the duchy on the death of his childless uncle, Ernest II, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. She enjoyed life in Germany. The outbreak of World War I divided her sympathies. She sided with Germany against her native Russia. Many of her relatives, including her brother Paul and her nephew Nicholas II, were killed during the Russian Revolution, and Maria lost her considerable fortune. After World War I,   Maria died in 1920 while living under reduced circumstances in exile in Switzerland. 

Wonder why Russian women’s history ~~  a  Marie biscuit is a type of biscuit similar to a rich tea biscuit. It is also known (in various languages) as María, Mariebon and Marietta, amongst other names.  The biscuit is round and usually has the name embossed upon its top surface, the edges of which are also embossed with an intricate design. It is made with wheat flour, sugar, palm oil or sunflower seed oil and, unlike the rich tea biscuit, is typically vanilla-flavoured. 

The Marie biscuit was created by the London bakery Peek Freans in 1874 to commemorate the marriage of the Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia to the Duke of Edinburgh.  It became popular throughout Europe, particularly in Portugal and Spain where, following the Civil War, the biscuit became a symbol of the country's economic recovery after bakeries produced mass quantities to consume a surplus of wheat. 

The most famous of the Marie being a Spanish one.  Fontaneda is a Spanish food sector company dedicated to the manufacture of crackers and biscuits. At its height, between 1950 and 1975, Fontaneda had yearly revenues of more than 10 billion pesetas.  It was founded in the town of Aguilar de Campoo by Eugenio Fontaneda in 1881. In 1996, the multinational Nabisco bought it for over 4.5 billion pesetas and in 2002, under the direction of United Biscuits, it closed its facilities, maintaining the trademark to manufacture it in other factories in Spain.


Interesting ! – if not to us, this crow really found it tempting and measuring its dia !!
With regards – S. Sampathkumar

1 comment:

  1. Excellent inputs.
    B Venkatakrishnan