Taking a walk down memory lane, I paused in the neighbourhood of snacks, and bordered on biscuits; Oxford Cabin Biscuit to be precise. If you grew up in the 70s, 80s and 90s, you should know just what I mean.
I fondly recall the childhood days of parties and treats, of back-to-school provision packages for boarding students, of “Mama Oyoyo” treats wrapped in white handkerchiefs when mother returned home from meetings. In all of these memories, one singular item resonates, indelibly etched in my memory. Such was the power of the good old Oxford Cabin biscuit – Oh yes! The plain looking, flat, unsweetened snack which happened to be the icing of our childhood as far as biscuits go.
Cabin biscuit is a generic name for a kind of bread staple that is typically hard, flattened and mostly unsweetened. It is usually served to passengers on board ocean liners to help settle their stomachs in the event of sea sickness.
The staple can be eaten with beverages or toppings.
It may interest you to know that cabin biscuit was on the last menu that was served on the Titanic before the ship went down.
Oxford cabin biscuit was incorporated into the Nigerian market from Denmark in 1960. So besides being as old as Nigeria itself (in Nigeria), it probably won’t be out of place to say that Oxford Cabin was the biscuit for the gods because it is about as revered as Seaman’s schnapps and it complements the spirit on very many occasions.
When a baby was born and you went visiting back then, Cabin biscuits were the first refreshments you got served.
Birthday parties weren’t complete without them topping trays of jollof rice. It was the delight for children in every party back then.
Cabin biscuit wasn’t the only biscuit in the market by the way, there were several others like shortcakes, malted milk and coasters, but Oxford’s Cabin clearly held the ace.
The biscuit came in about a hundred pieces in a square box. It wasn’t too sweet but it was filling and, one could explore various ways of enjoying it. It also had a very wide market coverage.
As children, we explored various creative skills while enjoying our cabin biscuits. For instance, mixing powdered milk in little quantity of water to make a thick paste, and then crushing lots of biscuit into the milk was a hit for us. If we couldn’t get milk, we made do with plain water and that was just fine.
You’re probably one of those who made sandwiches out of cabin biscuits by spreading butter over layers of the biscuit? That was another smart way of enjoying it.
As children, the practice of dipping cabin biscuits in tea was a skill that required mastery so as not to have it crumbling into a hot cup of beverage.
Most boarders liked to reserve their Cabin biscuits as their last resort, because when all provisions have gone down and hunger comes knocking, Cabin biscuit became the invaluable stomach binder.
As is the story of life itself, this once upon a premium biscuit has been overtaken by some frontline biscuits in today’s market, thus relegating our good old Cabin to the rear of the shelf.
Cabin has also become smaller in size and somewhat flakier than in the past. Its presentation of multiple pieces in a box is a turn off for some people because it creates the chance of others having to touch or at least brush against the biscuits left in the box. This comes across as unhygienic.
However, the brand is still preferred in a lot of community gatherings, church services and meetings. Household parties still celebrate with Cabin biscuits and it comes in handy at picnics.
Colleagues at work still enjoy sharing a box of cabin biscuit at teatime.
Would you like to tell us how you enjoyed your cabin biscuit as a child? Please use the comment section below.
I’m sure someone here will resonate with your style.
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