As a very small child….probably around the age of 2 or 3… I remember the phrase ….
“Does she want a Bickiepeg? Does she? ” being a regular taunt thrust “humorously” in my face by my father, JMH.
At the time I usually perceived it as unjust. As something demeaning. A phrase meant to put me firmly in my place as the youngest member of the family. A teasing phrase that implied I was still in babyhood, which I undoubtedly was, and furthermore, one that suggested that my tears of frustration about whatever it was that was being denied to me could be simply satisfied by shoving a Bickiepeg in my mouth.
On the other hand, I do remember almost always having a Bickiepeg fastened by a piece of ribbon to my clothes by a tiny gold safety pin. This was so that the Bickiepeg was instantly available…whenever I needed it’s comfort and perhaps also to stop me swallowing the whole biscuit in one go.
So maybe what I perceived as a teasing statement was perhaps just the sort of question any parent might ask when trying to work out why their baby or toddler is upset.
Mm…..not so convinced about that.
I am sure it was a wind up on my fathers part. Although, I am equally sure that the Bickiepeg had been a solid part of my teething regime.
So what was a Bickiepeg? Well, it was and still is a stick of hardened biscuit with a hole at the top. This is then given as a teething aid to babies and toddlers with a little piece of ribbon threaded through the hole so that it can be attached for safety purposes to the infant’s clothing.
It was invented / created as long ago as 1925 by a Harley Street paediatrician, Dr Harry Campbell. He designed it to strengthen a baby’s jaws and teeth and also to help soothe teething pain.
So it had already been a well established teething aid for over 25 years when I was given it in the late 1950’s.
It is still produced by hand in the Bickiepeg factory in Aberdeenshire and is made from wheat flour and water and baked until it is very hard. With no added sugar it is perfect for babies from 6 months to chew on. It isn’t designed to be eaten, just used to bite down hard on. In fact it should be thrown away once it has been chewed/sucked for 20 minutes as after that time it can start to soften and then the biscuit can start to break up and be a choking hazard for young babies.
Despite my own memories of the teasing I endured, I gave it to my daughter, Laura to help ease her teething pain in the 1980’s. Although, unlike me she has no recollection of using them.
My last memory of them from her baby hood was when I was clearing out our house in Pontefract for our move to Leeds. On a final manic cleaning and vacuuming splurge I espied a slightly used Bickiepeg lurking under the folds of a curtain, firmly wedged in the crack between the edge of the carpet and the skirting board.
And then a few weeks ago she bought some herself for her own son, Arta . And so the tradition of the Bickie Peg in our family continues for the third generation. I know that mine was the first as my parents couldn’t have been offered it as they had had their baby hoods before it had been invented.
Unsurprisingly, for a boy who must shove everything in his mouth and then proceed to gum whatever it is to death, he seems to love his Bickiepegs.
Better ensure that he is allowed to enjoy his Bickiepeg without any teasing to detract from his happy chomping!!