A digestive biscuit is a type of cookie, or biscuit, as they're called in British English, made with coarse wheat flour, ground wholemeal, a light amount of sugar, and a rising agent such as baking soda, along with oil, salt, and sometimes milk as well. The result is a slightly savory cookie with a crumbly texture and a simple flavor which some people find quite appealing. Digestives are closely linked with British culture, and they continue to popular in the United Kingdom well over 100 years after they were first developed.
Credit for the invention of the digestive biscuit is typically given to Alexander Grant, an employee of McVitie & Price's, a company in Scotland. Grant developed the digestive biscuit in the 1800s, and the cookie was at first marketed as a health food, due to the antacid properties of baking soda. Later testing of digestive biscuits has laid this claim to rest, although digestives may be a healthier choice than some other cookies, thanks to the whole grains involved in their manufacture.
A classic digestive biscuit closely resembles a graham cracker. It has a rich, nutty flavor with a hint of sweetness from the included sugar. Digestives are also extremely crumbly. Digestives can also come in chocolate coated varieties, and McVitie's has also branched out considerably with flavorings and additives.
Some people enjoy dunking digestive biscuits in tea or coffee to soften them slightly before consuming them, and digestives are commonly on offer with beverages in Britain. They can also be crushed to make cracker crusts for things like cheesecakes, or they can be enjoyed on their own. Some animals also enjoy digestive biscuits, but it's important to check with a veterinarian before giving digestive biscuits to any animal.
McVitie's continues to be a major producer of British digestive biscuits, although several other companies make them as well. They are often available in markets which stock British foods, and they can also be ordered through specialty importers or directly from the parent company. When purchasing a package of digestive biscuits, make sure to shake it gently; if the package rattles, it is a sign that there are broken biscuits inside.