Hello, Delib world! My name is Nicole Otero, and I’m a postgraduate student earning my MA in Marketing Communications at Richmond, the American International University in London. I’m a newbie to the world of tech and UK government (I’m originally from the United States). Photography and cooking (badly) are my try-hard hobbies and I’m almost constantly in search of a bottle of water or a snack.

But back to the topic at hand…

You may ask yourself: what does this tech and government newbie/student have to say on here that’s of any interest to me? Well, I’m here to talk about the big issue. The divider of a nation. An equalizer amongst the masses. The pièce de résistance.

Of course, I’m here to talk about biscuits.

More specifically, biscuits in local government. (Stay with me.)

Nicole Otero with a plate of biscuits

To complete my MA, I was required to undertake a topic of my own choosing for a professional research project. The task was to research a topic to the ends of the earth, create a media plan and try to get real world media coverage. Easy right? (Just to clarify, definitely hasn’t been easy).

I know it’s hard to believe, but the topic of biscuits in government was not my number one choice for my last impression I would ever leave upon the academic world (one hopes).

My first choice was open data: a more conventional choice (and sounds much better than biscuits when people ask you what your final dissertation is about).

My primary topic choice was a natural one. Leading up to the start of my professional project, I was working as a marketing communications intern at a SaaS company called Socrata. Their specialty is all things open data, and they’re great at what they do. So of course, I wanted to make the most of my access to expert opinion and knowledge on the topic!

But that’s not what the world of local government had in mind for me…

My open data approach started off well enough. Great, in fact! My colleagues were all incredibly supportive and helpful, and allowed me to craft and circulate a survey that would be informative for both Socrata AND my dissertation.

After a few drafts of hit or miss questions (and a lot of help from one of your former Digital Heroes, Ben Unsworth), the survey was ready to send out. But to me, it just seemed a little flat. So I decided to add a cheeky little addition to the survey and ask local government employees to name their favourite biscuit.

Of course, inspired by the one and only Delib blog and its penchant for throwing in a biscuit question here and there (and also again, Ben Unsworth! Who had introduced me to the blog…)

The results from the survey came pouring in. And although we were able to draw some great insights from the responses to the open data questions, I can’t say that people were wildly enthusiastic or excited about the topic. But MY GOODNESS do people get hyped about their favourite biscuits. The idea snowballed from there, and before I knew it I couldn’t deny my biscuit destiny any longer.

The result is the illustration below (well, not just that – a fifty page media plan as well. Still in disbelief myself.)

North East: Gingernuts; Yorkshire: HobNobs; East Midlands: HobNobs; East of England: Digestives; London: Gingernuts; South East: Bourbons; South West: Digestives; West Midlands: Jammie Dodgers; North West: Jaffa Cakes

The favourite biscuits of local government staff, by region

I had so many respondents to the survey, that I was able to pinpoint UK local government’s favourite biscuit by region. And also learn that nearly 40% of local government biscuit eaters dunk their biscuits… And apparently two biscuits is the ideal number to have with your tea… And that dunking your Jaffa Cake is definitely NOT okay (again, I’m American so this is all news to me).

Not only have I been able to learn and share some of these fun facts, I’ve had some great conversations with the Metro, The London Evening Standard and City AM about publishing a story based on my research (nothing confirmed yet, but fingers crossed).

So I guess what I’m trying to say is, thanks Delib! It’s been a bizarre few months writing this dissertation, but its been made all the more sweeter by being able to write about biscuits.