Iced Gems are a cherished British classic that stand out as a timeless favourite. These colourful and vibrant, bite-sized sweet biscuits have been a beloved snack for generations, transcending time and trends. Join me, as I delve into their colourful history, revealing how they have stood the test of time.
McVitie's Iced Gems consist of a flat and crunchy, circular biscuit base, topped with a dollop of hardened, fruit-flavoured icing sugar in different colours. They come in a 23g share bag which is blue and white and features a cartoon polar bear on the front.
Homemade iced gems often have a softer topping of icing and a more buttery biscuit, and you will find our recipe at the end of this post.
Iced Gems have a rich history that traces back to the United Kingdom. The first commercial production of the sweet biscuit took place in the 1850s, and is attributed to Huntley & Palmers, a renowned British biscuit manufacturer. However, the original product did not have any icing.
The miniature-sized biscuits were accidentally created while the company was experimenting with biscuit making machinery, but liked what they saw. So, instead of simply binning them, they decided to name them Gems and sell them commercially.
In 1910, the company came up with the genius idea of adding a swirl of colourful icing on top, giving them their iconic look - and we're all very grateful for this decision!
Huntley & Palmers was founded in 1822 by Thomas Huntley and George Palmer. Their Reading-based biscuit factory was once the biggest on the planet, before its closure in 1970.
Iced Gems are currently manufactured under the McVitie's branding, which is owned by United biscuits, and the icing is in the three flavours Blackcurrant (purple), Raspberry (white) and Lemon (yellow). However, the modern version contains no artificial colours or flavours, and no hydrogenated vegetable oil.
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McVitie's Choc Gems contain brown swirls of smooth, brown icing. They are highly rated by many customers on popular UK supermarket websites and are widely available.
In 2019, McVitie's launched their Unicorn Gems. However, although the colours are prettier, in white, lilac, purple and yellow, the flavours are exactly the same as the standard Iced Gems. These are not currently available and have been discontinued.
A 23g bag of Mcvitie's Iced Gems contains 92 calories (kcal), 389kJ, 0.7g of fat, 0.3g saturates, 11.9g sugars and 0.15g salt.
This is a full list of ingredients in McVitie's Iced Gems;
Sugar, Flour (Wheat Flour, Calcium, Iron, Niacin, Thiamin), Vegetable Oil (Palm), Raising Agent (Sodium Bicarbonate), Salt, Milk Protein, Colour (Anthocyanins), Vegetable Extracts (Safflower, Radish), Natural Flavourings, Natural Lemon Flavouring with other Natural Flavourings.
For many, Iced Gems hold a special place in their hearts as a nostalgic treat from childhood. The sight of the small, brightly coloured biscuits can instantly transport individuals back to simpler times, filled with school lunches, play dates, and the joy of discovering a favourite snack in the pantry. The nostalgia associated with Iced Gems is a testament to the enduring appeal of these timeless treats.
While Iced Gems are delightful on their own, their small size and colourful appearance make them a versatile ingredient in creative culinary endeavours. Some enthusiasts use them to decorate cakes and cupcakes, adding a playful and whimsical touch to baked goods. Others incorporate them into ice cream sundaes or yogurt parfaits for a burst of colour and sweetness.
It's fair to say that the commercially available products have a rather hard texture and look and feel artificial. So why not bake your own delicious home-made iced gems?
Here's how to make your own home-made iced gems;
We hope you have found our Ice Gems: A Colourful Journey Through Time post informative and useful.