I know what suckers you guys are for quizzes, puzzles and other chances to prove how clever you are (don’t even bother denying it). Well, it’s Friday, so I will indulge you. See if you can spot what the following three images have in common (there are many correct answers, but I can only accept the answer I have written down on my answer cards):
So, what links all 3 images? If your answer was related to bottoms then please go to the back of the class – that was just a coincidence (honest!). No, today we are looking at the beach vendor’s favourite product, Biscoito Globo. The word biscoito generally means the same as English ‘biscuit’ (‘cookie’ for the Americans) but can also mean cracker.[Aside: I don’t know if this is true, but a little while back someone told me that the “coito” part of biscoito is related to the word coitus and the fact that biscuits often come as two halves sandwiched together in a union, à la custard cream – I find it credible but perhaps I just want to believe…]
Anyway, back to Globo! First let me tell what these things are. They are ring shaped snacks made from polvilho, mandioca (cassava) starch, that has been
deep fried in oil baked in an oven (thanks Eri!). They look a bit like the things that are sold alongside potato chips (UK: crisps!) but described as “Corn snacks” – Cheese Puffs, Wotsits, you know the kind of thing…
However, Globo come in large, chunky rings and have a far more open texture. They come in two varieties, salty (green pack) and sweet (red pack) and although they don’t have a great deal of flavour and are basically just fried foam, they’re pretty good at staving off hunger for 20 minutes or so.
The story behind this snack is pretty interesting. Although Globo is seen as an icon of the Rio beach scene, it was first made in 1953 by three brothers and a cousin who were working in a bakery in São Paulo. A year later they decided to check out Rio and found that the beaches and large tourist crowds made this the perfect location.
Essentially, very little has changed since then. Biscoito Globo breaks all the modern day marketing rules. The packaging has never been changed. They have never advertised. They basically have no post-production supply chain. The independent vendors simply queue up at the factory each day and purchase a sack or two, each containing 50 individual packets. Then off they go to sell to the public. They purchase at R$0.35 per packet and sell on to the people lounging on the beach (or stuck in traffic jams) for between R$2-3 – that’s a tasty markup!
I should point out that other brands of biscoito de polvilho are available, but none have achieved the iconic status of Globo.