Bath Olivers are bland flavoured, thin, crisp, ivory-coloured biscuits with tiny holes poked in them.
They are made from fat (butter, oil and beef fat), flour, milk and yeast, and sold in a white paper cylinder.
They are good with cheese.
Bath Olivers are relatively expensive, about twice the price of water biscuits.
Bath Olivers were invented by a Dr William Oliver, as part of a diet he prescribed for those “taking the waters” in the Roman baths at Bath, England. His image is still stamped on each side of the biscuit.
Oliver was also the author of the renowned “Practical Essay on the Use and Abuse of warm Bathing in Gluty Cases.”
Oliver joined the General Hospital in Bath in 1740. He founded what became the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases.
When he died in 1764 he left to his coachman, a man named Atkins: £100, a hundred bags of flour and the recipe for Bath Oliver Biscuits. Atkins opened a shop in Green Street, Bath (now, in the early 2000s, the site of a pub.)
At one point, the biscuits were owned by Huntley & Palmers. There used to be chocolate covered ones as well, up until around the mid 1980s, after Huntley & Palmers were bought by Nabisco.
Now (2007) Bath Olivers are made by Jacobs under licence from Fortts.