Setanta M. Skyweasel (1909-2009) Inventor of the Fig Roll.

Skyweasel in aprticularly boisterious mood.

Skyweasel in a particularly boisterious mood.

Setanta Millwigger Skyweasel was born into a renowned family of Dublin bakers and confectioners, a distinction which the young Setanta had beaten into him by his stern Victorian father. “Always remember boy! Any thrupenny street fingersmith can be a baker: Skyweasels are confectioners!” The senior Skyweasel  would exhort, as he thrashed his only son with any one of his collection of beating rods carved into the shape of Victorian Chancellors of the Exchequer.

The young Skyweasel entered adulthood with both his father’s confectionary skills as well as a lifelong fear of both finance and treasury ministers, eventually talking over the family business in 1929 following his father’s untimely death having unwisely challenged a steam-powered combine harvester to a street brawl.

Skyweasel, seeing the potential collapse of the capitalist system during the 1929 stock market crash, decided to play his part in the revival by developing a biscuit with a pleasing content. Although taken as unremarkable in modern times, it should be noted that such an approach was revolutionary. Sir John Touchcloth, inventor of the Chocolate Digestive, had been beaten to death by a wild mob on a charge of witchcraft only ten years previously, left dying in the streets of Whitechapel in London, and who was remembered for his immortal final words: “What’s wrong with you people? It’s only a fucking biscuit!”

Skyweasel experimented with numerous substances, including gravel, dried Yak, iron and  kerosene, and determined that not only were figs in copious supply given new trading routes, but were relatively less likely to cause oral bleeding or kill potential customers.

“Skyweasel’s Non-Oral Bleeding Fig-Based Confections”  went on sale, and were a disastrous failure. On top of that, the steam powered “pusher” machine that forced the fig gel into the pastry required four tonnes of coal per biscuit, and was incredibly dangerous, constantly catching fire and occasionally exploding. In 1933 alone, over 1700 men and boys lost their lives in Skyweasel’s factory pushing figs into biscuits.

There was a silver lining, in that such was the propensity to cause employees to catch fire that staff members had a procedure which involved falling to the ground and rolling in flour to extinguish the flames, a procedure which became known as the “Fig Roll.”

This however had absolutely nothing to do with the renaming of the biscuit, which occurred instead when shopkeepers suggested that the original name was, to quote one: “ A stupid name, indeed only a silly dunderhead and offspawn of a whore would regard that as a name with which to associate pride.”

The newly renamed “Fig Roll” did become a success,  and encouraged him to begin work on a whole line of successful confections. He failed. Indeed his obsession that the carrot had a rightful place in confectionary let to his bankruptcy, and attempts to “sneak” carrots into his products caused the minor “These aren’t Jaffa Cakes! What’s that? A raw carrot? I think I’m going to be sick!” public scandal of 1957.

In later years, he could be found falling from hostelries across Dublin, challenging strangers as to identify who he was. On one occasion, he got into scuffle in the Gresham Hotel over whether he had made a bigger contribution to western civilisation than Jesus Christ, during which his opponent called him “A jumped up baker and a c**t to boot!” before stabbing him with a homemade shank. Both he and His Grace the Archbishop of Dublin later made up.


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