The manufacture of biscuits is one of Sri Lanka’s most profitable businesses. It’s true, Sri Lankans love rice, chocolate milk, fizzy drinks – and biscuits.
But which biscuit to buy? Our leading competitor brands Munchee and Maliban make identical looking products that cost exactly the same – and even the companies’ logos look similar (white font on red, both beginning with ‘M’). So how do you decide which one to go for?
We picked five of the classics to compare, ie. the ones you’ll most likely be offered by the aunties and achchis when you go visiting. Nice, Marie, Milk Shortcake, Lemon Puff and Chocolate Cream. Let’s eat.
The Nice biscuit is quite old, originating around the early 20th century, and you can get it pretty much anywhere in the world. It’s a simple sort of biscuit, rectangular and flat, lightly coconut flavoured and sprinkled with large sugar crystals on the top. We honestly couldn’t taste much of a difference between the two brands, but Munchee seemed just a little bit better. They both weigh the same and cost the same – so you’d be fine buying either. But we personally prefer the Munchee.
|Munchee Rs. 40 (100g) We liked the Munchee Nice better, though honestly it’s quite hard to tell them apart. You probably wouldn’t notice much of a difference unless you were really looking for one. The Munchee (and we found this true in all cases) was just a bit more delicate – in this instance less sugary and coconutty.||Maliban Rs. 40 (100g) The Maliban Nice tasted fine, pretty much how you’d expect it to. The biscuit seemed a little less sturdy than the Maliban however as it crumbled in the packet quite easily, making quite a mess. It was also alot sweeter than the Munchee, with more sugar crystals on the top.|
This is an even older biscuit, being created in Britain in the late 19th century to commemorate the marriage of the Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia to the Duke of Edinburgh. It’s pretty popular throughout Asia, and you get lots of different varieties (chocolate Marie, orange Marie, etc.) This is the classic tea-dunking biscuit. It’s round and hard, flavoured gently with vanilla and a bit of sugar. I quite like eating it plain, but it’s also good when soaked in sugary milk tea. Making a sandwich of two biscuits with condensed milk or peanut butter can also be fun.
|Munchee – Rs. 28 (80g) There’s something about Munchee that we can’t quite put our finger on – a delicacy in the taste that makes it just a bit better than the Maliban. That being said, again you’ll be fine going for either.||Maliban – Rs. 28 (80g) Again we had very little to say with regard to difference in taste – both biscuits tasted fine and cost the same. It’s a marie biscuit, it’s fairly simple.|
Our milk shortcakes are again good for dunking purposes. They’re not as thick and rich and buttery as the shortcakes you get abroad, but they’re quite nice.
|Munchee – Rs. 40 (85g) We like the Munchee better and there’s a clear difference in taste here. Although the Munchee is slimmer, the flavour is richer and milkier, and it’s nice and crisp. This is a good biscuit.||Maliban – Rs. 40 (80g) The Maliban shortcake is a bit thicker than the Munchee, and tastes a bit like a rusk and slightly cardboardey. It’s okay, not bad, but isn’t quite milky enough.|
In 2010 Maliban set a new Guinness World Record by creating the world’s largest Lemon Puff. Lemon Puff is a pretty popular biscuit in Sri Lanka. We’re not big fans of it in general, but here goes:
|Munchee – Rs. 50 (100g) The Munchee Lemon Puff was pretty good, and we don’t even like lemon puffs that much. The biscuit was a lovely gold and toasted, tasting more, how to say, puffy? Like there was actually some air in there, whereas the Maliban one was just solid and hard. Again, the lemon flavour was delicate and not too sweet. A good biscuit.||Maliban – Rs. 50 (100g) We didn’t like the Maliban Lemon Puff. The biscuit was too hard, and the lemon cream was too heavily essenced. There was also far too much granulated sugar on the top.|
|Nice||Marie||Short Cake||Lemon Puff||Chocolate|
|Munchee||Rs. 40||Rs. 28||Rs. 40||Rs. 50||Rs. 45|
|Maliban||Rs. 40||Rs. 28||Rs. 40||Rs. 50||Rs. 45|
|(Rs. 0.40/g)||(Rs. 0.35/g)||(Rs. 0.47,0.50 / g)||(Rs. 0.50/g)||(Rs. 0.45/g)|
Like we said, in most cases it’s pretty difficult to tell these biscuits apart. And since they all cost the same, it’s hard to recommend one over the other. However, there’s something about Munchee that we like. And with the shortcake and lemon puff they’re definitely better. If you like your biscuits quite sweet and strong, then perhaps you’d prefer Maliban. But if you want a more delicate taste, then go Munchee. It’s good.