The worrying problem of pensioner biscuit addiction worsened yesterday in the County when three octogenarians from Cappagh were arrested for manufacturing substitute custard creams and trying to sell them in the Pomeroy Diamond. It is believed that the pensioners were trying to make home-made biscuits using custard powder, milk and two small rectangular pieces of cardboard.
“The price of custard creams is now up to 75p for 400 grams, and that has created a thriving black market” said Chief Inspector John Quinn of the PSNI, which has set up a dedicated ‘Custard Cream Team’ to deal with the problem. “The addiction is a growing problem in Tyrone. Walk round Stewartstown on a Saturday morning and you can hardly move for the used teabags lying about. It’s disgusting. People are scared of going out of their house for fear of being accosted by a wrinkly pestering them for a ‘couple of biccies’. The street price for sandwich biscuits has gone crazy, with a single chocolate bourbon costing as much as 7 pence on some street corners in East Tyrone”.
Quinn also warned of a growing scam across the County, “where pensioners ask if they can ‘just pop in for a wee cup of tae in ma hand’ and as soon as the unwitting neighbour’s back is turned they’re getting tore into the biscuit box like a demon possessed”.
“I started experimenting with biscuits when I got into my 70s” said Kitty Clarke, a biscuit taker from Cabragh. “At first I just took them recreationally when I was down the Killeeshil Community Centre on a Wednesday morning at the sewing bee, maybe the odd fig roll or malted milk. But by the time I was 75 I was into the heavy stuff like chocolate bourbons, custard creams, even jammy dodgers. They say crystal meth rots your teeth? Try troughing your way through six packets if iced gems without so much as a cup of tea. I feel so ashamed. Last week I got into a fight with old Tommy Crawford from Castlecaulfield, because I had got hold of his ginger nuts and wouldn’t let go. We’re fine now, but only because he insisted I gave him a chocolate finger”.
In a desperate effort to curb the problem Dungannon Hospital has started administering substitute custard creams in the form of garibaldis and digestives. The hospital also has a detox programme, gradually weaning the pensioners onto hobnobs, to rich tea biscuits and finally onto a plain piece of Ryvita bread.
Readers affected by this article should contact any branch of Biscuits Anonymous.