Six flavours, six packets of biscuit, one power ranking. Sam Brooks risks his waistline for the decadent trans-Tasman cake-biscuit known as the Tim Tam.
Is a Tim Tam a biscuit that dreamed it was a cake, or a cake that dreamed it was a biscuit? Not even Zhuangzi was able to answer this, because he was a Chinese philosopher who existed two and a half thousand years ago, before the age of decadent chocolate treats in plastic packets.
But I, Sam Brooks, philosopher of stage and (laptop) screen, have decided to do what Zhuangzi wasn’t able to. Philosophers are hung up on whether a hot dog is a sandwich, but I step past them and into the real fight, and I make sense of it the only way I possibly can: A power ranking.
I would like to note that while I am a philosopher, I am no food critic. My idea of fine dining is any place where they squint while looking at your expired learner’s driver’s licence and say, “Wow”. So take this ranking with all the subjectivity and caveats you need.
In the interest of Serious Science, I would like to declare that I consumed one (1) Tim Tam of each flavour. If you cannot assess a Tim Tam accurately after consuming just one, how can you judge anything?
6. Iced Coffee (Chilled)
What is it? An unholy mixture summoned by dark forces. I have no kind words for this ice cube biscuit – which I had to put into the freezer in order to get the ‘maximum’ flavour. I shouldn’t have even attempted it.
Coffee is one of those flavours that strikes me as bizarre, being a human who largely only drinks coffee for the effect. For me, a coffee flavour is like an alcohol flavour – I’m here for the ride, not the ticket price.
Keep on walking, Iced Coffee Tim Tam.
Could I eat a pack of it? I could barely finish one of these dirty ice cubes, let alone a whole pack. I can only assume if you finish a whole pack your stomach would jump up out of your throat in violent protest.
Pairing? An upside-down pentagram, a circle of salt, and a coven of warlocks who only wish to cause harm upon the world.
5. Double Chocolate
What is it? It’s a lot, is what it is!
Basically take the original Tim Tam flavour, double the amount of sweetness and heaviness of flavour, but somehow keep it the same size, and you’ve got Double Chocolate. It’s not necessarily bad, but it feels like a lot of a good thing. We don’t need lots of good things. Remember when we all used to like Justin Timberlake, before he decided he was an actor and sexy? No thanks, Justin.
Double Chocolate is the Justin Timberlake of Tim Tams, yes, is exactly what I’m saying.
Could I eat a pack of it? You know that movie Cast Away? The Helen Hunt movie where she rightly remarries after grieving her dead husband, and then gets a lot of shit for it when he’s somehow not dead even though he’s been gone for like two years?
Yeah, if I was Helen Hunt dealing with the stress of Tom Hanks coming back and being a dick, then I would eat a pack of these. That’s pretty much the only solution. I bet even the hungry Tom Hanks would’ve come home and been like, “I can only do one or two, thanks.”
Pairing? A recent break-up, a recent fast, or a recent emotional trauma. It might go well with a red wine, if you’re the kind of person who mixes your enablers.
What is it? It’s a white chocolate Tim Tam.
White chocolate is the coriander of chocolate. If you don’t like it, you’re genetically predisposed not to like it. Nothing I say will convince you that it’s good. And if you do like it, like I do, nothing will convince you that it’s bad. White chocolate is your refuge in the sampler packet – when everybody else reaches for the milk chocolate or the dark chocolate and fights over it like Christians in the later days of the Colosseum, you can be a safe Emperor knowing there will always be white chocolate for you.
In saying that, the Tim Tam brand of white chocolate is weirdly delicate for a Tim Tam and weirdly strong for white chocolate. I always think of white chocolate as the Cinderella of the chocolate family, but this is full stepsister – not quite fitting the shoe.
Could I eat a pack of it? Not in one sitting, but I’d definitely make a good stab of it. I don’t know who on this rapidly-warming earth would buy a packet of it, but I wouldn’t like to meet someone that brazen in person.
Pairing? For absolutely no reason, I think this would go well with a late-night, pre-bed whiskey and soda, heavier on the soda than the whiskey.
What is it? Here we go! Here’s the shotgun of the Tim Tam fam – it shoots you right in the chest and leaves you with a caved in body that’s ready for more. (I have never been shot by a shotgun, but can only assume it’s a similar experience to eating one (1) dark Tim Tam.)
It doesn’t quite hit the bitter depths of real dark chocolate, but it does a fair job of estimating that while still keeping the Tim Tam fullness of flavour.
Could I eat a pack of it? No, but that’s a good thing! This is definitely the kind of thing you put in the Tupperware as a nightly treat and spread the enjoyment out over the week for when you do something worthy of celebration, like not Ubering home after work or not running into the street and screaming about the injustices of the world.
Pairing? Fancy red wine. This feels like a treat, and should be paired with a treat.
What is it? This is a curveball, and one that vied for the throne of this power ranking, but didn’t quite get it.
The joy of a Tim Tam is that it feels decadent. You feel naughty through every step of the Tim Tam process – walking into the supermarket at 11pm, buying it for however much a Tim Tam packet costs, going to the checkout, taking it home and opening it, finishing it, and leaving the packet on your bed while you drift into blissful, restless sugared rest.
The caramel flavour leans a little bit too hard into this, for my tastes. You actually feel like you’re doing too much when you’re eating it. I like to have the sheen of self-delusion when I indulge, and this caramel doesn’t allow for that; I bite into it and I know I’m doing bad, and I know the St. Peter of my waistline will chastise me at the Pearly Gates of my jeans.
Could I eat a pack? I only ask whether I could, and I only stop now to question if I should.
No I could not, and no I should not.
What is it? The original, the non-reboot, the inspiration, the desired.
I’m on record as not liking ‘original’ flavours. I don’t like the lack of definition. Original could mean anything. I could bite into an original-flavoured something and be greeted with god knows what.
But in this context, original means one thing: Greatness. Distilled, scientific, chocolatey greatness. This is the peak Tim Tam – not too delicate, not too strong, not too chocolate. Everything is just right. I could share these with my friends and my family, or eat all of them myself.
Could I eat a pack? Yes. And I have, gloriously, many times in my life. I exist in the wake of many empty packets of these things, and have my carnivorous eyes looking upon the next one.
Pairing? Life. Beautiful, untainted, miraculous life.
The Spinoff’s food content is brought to you by Freedom Farms. They believe talking about food is nearly as much fun as eating it, and they’re excited to facilitate some good conversations around food provenance in Aotearoa New Zealand.