These were originally produced in 1860 and were one of the first semi-sweet varieties of biscuit to find mass favour. Initially intended to be called after Queen Victoria, Her Majesty declined to be associated with a commercial product but gracefully suggested that they could name the biscuit after her favourite home, Osborne House on the Isle of Wight.
What did happen during the initial manufacturing of the Osborne Biscuits in Malaya we would not know. Perhaps the local manufacturers started making the "imitation" ones..or they really had the rights to producing them in Malaya and Singapore...As I do remember as a child I learned to spell OSBORNE as I ate each biscuit with my KLIM milk. I also learned to spell MILK backwards as KLIM...and for a long time I did not know which word should be MILK.
One of those childhood mis-pronunciations. and one of those strange mix-ups.
Osborne biscuits were not favoured by those having poor dental health or dentures. I learned to chew my biscuits with my molars....and I never bit them off using my front teeth!! When I looked at people with gold teeth eating the Osborne biscuits I would just watch the gold glistening and feel good just watching the process!! I was told I was very rude watching people like that....but then it became a habit...people watching...
Later in life I was amused by what a friend told me how he and his relatives have been calling the Osborne biscuits...:Biskut Cina Mati - because whenever there were funerals in his small town..the Chinese would place Osborne biscuits on the tables for mourners and relatives to eat...My friend and his play mates would sneak into the funeral venue and take the free biscuits!! Hence the name...
|Photo courtesy of Florita|
Osborne biscuits were served as breakfast in government boarding schools in the 60's and 70's. The students called them "hard biscuits"... or just "roti". and the tins which kept the biscuits in were sold at 50 cents to any one who like to put their noodles or other perishables in. These biscuit tins were also recycled as "luggage" for travellers using long boats. From time to time we heard of people's lives being saved by these tins.
Many families continue to buy Osborne biscuits as part of their daily necessities because they do not get mouldy easily in the rural areas where refrigeration is not possible without electricity supply. And these biscuits do not get soften (masuk angin) as easily as other biscuits.
There are many other stories related to this biscuit.
Today the real or original Osborne biscuits are too expensive for the ordinary people like us.
(P/S If and when you visit the Isle of Wight one day you would be able to see the beautiful Osborne House....)