Written by Mark

Thursday, 22 November 2018

image for Just who is Lempit Opik anyway? One of the three classics.

Lempit Opik (1879-1930) was a manufacturer of biscuits from the German city of Ausberg in south-west Bavaria. Son of Lemartz Opik, the inventor of the cheese grater, and his African-born mother Pitah, Lempit takes his name as a compound of the first syllables of his parents, as is the tradition in Germany.

His father, a Frenchman by birth, was determined his son should have access to the high-quality education he was denied in his youth in France. Accordingly, when Lempit was eight, he was apprenticed to McVitie's in Edinburgh, Scotland, where he learned the classics. Namely, flour, butter and sugar. Lempit excelled in all aspects of biscuit manufacture and, at the age of 13, he invented the digestive biscuit, but his recipe was stolen by a man who would go on to become his arch-enemy, Alexander Grant.

On his father's death in 1895, the young Opik left McVitie's and returned to his native home. With the inheritance from his father's cheese grater legacy, Lempit set up his own biscuit manufacturing plant in Bavaria. Enjoying only moderate success in his lifetime, Lempit was beset with industrial saboteurs and many of his original inventions, including the Fig Roll and Jaffa Cake, were stolen before he could profit by them.

This all culminated, when, at the age of 51, Lempit was found murdered in his office. He had been working on a secret recipe for a new product made of two chocolate biscuits, sandwiched with chocolate cream, and then covered in milk chocolate. Opik had named the new biscuit a Reticulated Giraffe (in his native German, Netzgiraffe), after his mother's favourite animal. Product development was well underway with packaging designs featuring beautiful pictures of proud reticulated giraffes in the wild, and even a marketing slogan, "Nimm einen Netzgiraffe" (Pick up a reticulated giraffe).

Investigations into Opik's death centred around a young apprentice at Lempit's biscuit factory, a Scotsman from Glasgow named William McDonald. McDonald had worked closely with Opik during his apprenticeship and was the last man to see Lempit alive, but no conclusive evidence could be found to link McDonald with Opik's death.

Soon after the killing, McDonald went back to Glasgow and set up his own biscuit firm with funding from Sir Alexander Grant. From 1932, McDonald began production of the famous Penguin biscuit.

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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