Biscuit Monster visits the UK with John Oliver



And whatever you do, don’t ask for a napkin to clean up after you’ve eaten…

Why not?

It’s fairly common for napkin outside of the US to be understood to mean ‘sanitary napkin’ as in the women’s health item. The alternative in the UK specifically is ‘serviette’ to refer to the hand and face cleaning piece of cloth or paper. I think this distinction is probably falling more and more by the wayside however.


I work with older adults in New Zealand and those aged over 75 or so (at least the women) can use “napkin” to refer to infant cloth nappies (diapers for you American’s).

Well I’ve lived in the UK my entire life and have only ever heard napkin and serviette being used completely interchangeably.


Granted, I’m not the target market for them but I think “sanitary towel” is possibly the more common term in the UK? And napkins - usually cloth, serviettes - usually paper?

What Cookie Monster eats is, and to my knowledge has always been, referred to as a cookie in the UK. Cookies are simply one of many different foodstuffs know as a biscuit.

The “little t” gag seems much better suited to Fozzy than cookie monster. Of course, when I was a kid watching sesame street back in the 90s, they the muppets never seemed to crack jokes or say anything punny.

Although, I’m pretty sure it’s more likely that most of their humor managed to whoosh over my head. The family says I was a precocious child, but I think I just didn’t let on that I was didn’t understand more than half of anything that people told me.

As with many things in the UK, napkin/serviette is a term that allows for subtle distinctions in social “class” (not to be confused with actual economic class).
Using the term serviette will mark you out as an upwardly-mobile middle class person who wants to be seen to use “polite” terms (Think Hyacinth Bucket and you’d be spot on), whereas napkin is happily used by both working class and upper class people, the former because they don’t feel the need to use “fancy” terminology to distinguish themselves from working class people, the latter because they don’t need to use such terminology to distinguish themselves from working class people (But also sometimes to distinguish themselves from the sort of people who say “serviette”).

Hey, I didn’t say it was going to make sense.


How very Non-U.

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I was told by my home economics teacher many years ago, that biscuit is a legally-defined term, and they must all be of the exact same weight and size, whereas cookies can be more irregular. Whether this is true, or just shit she made up, I dunno (FWIW, this was during the teacher’s strike of the 80s, and she was an NAS/UWT scab, so maybe don’t trust her).

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