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Jaffa Cakes

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Jaffa Cakes
Jaffa cake.png
A Jaffa Cake cut in half
Alternative namesJaffa
Place of originUnited Kingdom
Created byMcVitie and Price
Main ingredientsSponge, orange-flavoured jam, chocolate
VariationsVarious limited edition flavours (lemon and lime, strawberry, black currant)

Jaffa Cakes are a cake introduced by McVitie and Price in the UK in 1927 and named after Jaffa oranges. The most common form of Jaffa cakes are circular, 2+18 inches (54 mm) in diameter and have three layers: a Genoise sponge base, a layer of orange flavoured jam and a coating of chocolate. Each cake is 46 calories. Jaffa Cakes are also available as bars or in small packs, and in larger and smaller sizes.[1] The original Jaffa Cakes now come in packs of 10, 20, 30, or 40, having been downsized in 2017 from 12 or 24 per pack.[2]

Because McVitie's did not register the name "Jaffa Cakes" as a trademark, other biscuit manufacturers and supermarkets have made similar products under the same name.[3] The product's classification as a cake or biscuit was part of a VAT tribunal in 1991, with the court finding in McVitie's favour that Jaffa Cakes should be considered cakes and not biscuits for tax purposes.[4] In 2012 they were ranked the best selling cake or biscuit in the United Kingdom.[5]

McVitie and Price's Jaffa Cakes


McVitie's entire line of Jaffa Cakes are produced at the McVitie's factory in Stockport.[6] The Jaffa cake production area covers an acre (4,000 m2) and includes a production line over a mile (1.6 km) long which sits on the Stockport side of the site's boundary with Manchester.[3] Because of the nature of the product – having multiple components of cake, chocolate covering and jam – special hardware accelerators were devised to allow rapid computer inspection of 20 products per second, taking place under four symmetrically placed lights.[7]

Flavour variants

Although Jaffa Cakes are usually orange flavour, limited edition flavours have been available, such as lemon-and-lime,[8] strawberry[9] and blackcurrant.[10] McVities launched limited-edition pineapple flavour Jaffa Cakes in early 2020.[11] In early 2021 McVitie's unveiled the new flavours cherry and passionfruit.[12]

Legal status

In the United Kingdom, value added tax is payable on chocolate-covered biscuits, but not on chocolate-covered cakes.[13][14] McVities defended its classification of Jaffa Cakes as cakes at a VAT tribunal in 1991, against the ruling that Jaffa cakes were biscuits due to their size and shape, and the fact that they were often eaten in place of biscuits.[15] McVities insisted that the product was a cake, and produced a giant Jaffa Cake in court to illustrate its point.[15]

The court discounted the expert evidence, as it went beyond the capacity of an ordinary purchaser.[16]

The product was assessed on the following criteria:[17][18]

  • The product's name was regarded as a minor consideration.
  • The ingredients were regarded as similar to those of a cake, producing a thin cake-like mixture rather than the thick dough of a biscuit.
  • The product's texture was regarded as being that of a sponge cake.
  • The product hardens when stale, in the manner of a cake.
  • A substantial part of a Jaffa Cake, in terms of bulk and texture, is sponge.
  • In size, a Jaffa Cake is more like a biscuit than a cake.
  • The product was generally displayed for sale alongside other biscuits, rather than with cakes.
  • The product is presented as a snack and eaten with the fingers, like a biscuit, rather than with a fork as a cake might be. The tribunal also considered that children would eat them in "a few mouthfuls", in the manner of a sweet.

The court was adjudicated by Mr Donald Potter QC, who found in favour of McVitie's and ruled that whilst Jaffa Cakes had characteristics of both cakes and biscuits, the product should be considered a cake, meaning that VAT is not paid on Jaffa Cakes in the United Kingdom.[13][19] Mr Potter QC also expressed that Jaffa Cakes were not biscuits.[20]

The Irish Revenue Commissioners also regard Jaffa Cakes as cakes, since their moisture content is greater than 12%. As a result, they are charged the reduced rate of VAT (13.5% as of 2016).[21]

During an advert first shown on TV on 26 February 2021, McVities reignited the debate of whether Jaffa Cakes were cakes or biscuits.[22] The advert shows a man debating whether it is a cake or a biscuit and then coming to the conclusion that he can be anything he wants to be.[22] The advert is part of a wider £4.7 million investment in Jaffa Cakes including social media partnerships, AR digital experiences and PR and influencer work.[23] This is the first standalone Jaffa Cakes advert since 2006.[24]

Other brands

  • Mondelez brand Lefèvre-Utile (LU) produced Jaffa Cakes under the commercial name PiM's. The jam flavours include cherry, orange, pear, raspberry, lemon, chocolate mousse and hazelnuts, etc.[25]
  • Delicje Szampańskie are the Polish equivalent and had been manufactured by E. Wedel since 1977.[26] As of 2020, Delicje brand belongs to Mondelez group.[27]


  1. ^ "Jaffa Cake's lemon squeezy bar". Archived from the original on 29 September 2011. Retrieved 25 August 2010.
  2. ^ "Jaffa Cakes packet size reduced in latest 'shrinkflation' move". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 May 2020.
  3. ^ a b Harry Wallop (6 May 2012). "Jaffa Cakes - definitely not biscuits - prepare to take on imitators". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 25 August 2012. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
  4. ^ "VAT Tribunal case LON/91/0160 (United Biscuits)". Archived from the original on 10 February 2019. Retrieved 9 February 2019.
  5. ^ "Jaffa Cakes - definitely not biscuits - prepare to take on imitators". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 17 June 2018. Retrieved 28 December 2014.
  6. ^ "The factory where life is sweet". Manchester Evening News. 17 April 2012. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
  7. ^ Graves, Mark; Batchelor, Bruce (2003). Machine Vision for the Inspection of Natural Products. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 403. ISBN 978-1-85233-525-0.
  8. ^ "McVitie's Jaffa Cakes Lemon and Lime". Archived from the original on 26 July 2011. Retrieved 22 June 2010.
  9. ^ "McVitie's launches limited edition Strawberry-flavoured Jaffa Cakes". 27 April 2009. Retrieved 22 June 2010.
  10. ^ "Jaffa Cakeover". The Daily Record. 12 December 2005. Retrieved 22 June 2010.
  11. ^ Abernethy, Laura (27 January 2020). "McVitie's launches new pineapple flavour Jaffa Cakes". Metro. Retrieved 7 March 2020.
  12. ^ Chabo, Elena (5 January 2021). "McVitie's has launched new Jaffa Cake flavours Passionfruit and Cherry". Good Housekeeping. Retrieved 27 January 2021.
  13. ^ a b Lee, Natalie (2011). Revenue Law Principles and Practice. A&C Black. p. 1009. ISBN 9781847667663.
  14. ^ "Food products (VAT Notice 701/14)". GOV.UK. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  15. ^ a b "What you do – and don't – pay VAT on". Which? Magazine. 24 June 2010. Archived from the original on 5 September 2012. Retrieved 27 September 2012.
  16. ^ "United Biscuits (UK) Ltd (No. 2). [1991] BVC 818 | Croner-i Tax and Accounting". Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  17. ^ "United Kingdom VAT & Duties Tribunals Decisions – Torq Ltd v Revenue and Customs [2005]". British and Irish Legal Information Institute. Retrieved 27 September 2012.
  18. ^ "Excepted items: Confectionery: The bounds of confectionery, sweets, chocolates, chocolate biscuits, cakes and biscuits: The borderline between cakes and biscuits". Archived from the original on 17 April 2013. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
  19. ^ "The borderline between cakes and biscuits". Archived from the original on 17 April 2013. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
  20. ^ "Jaffa Cakes". Tim Crane. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  21. ^ "VAT Rates: Jaffa Cakes". Revenue Commissioners. Archived from the original on 7 January 2018. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  22. ^ a b "Jaffa Cakes reignites an ancient dispute in return to TV". Retrieved 24 March 2021.
  23. ^ "Pladis to push McVitie's Jaffa Cakes with 'Be What You Want To Be' ad campaign". BetterRetailing. 26 February 2021. Retrieved 24 March 2021.
  24. ^ Briggs, Fiona. "Pladis unveils new TV creative for McVitie's Jaffa Cakes brand". Retail Times. Retrieved 24 March 2021.
  25. ^ Green, Denzil (6 August 2010). "Pim's Biscuits". CooksInfo. Retrieved 27 August 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  26. ^ "Kultowe słodycze zniknęły z rynku" [Iconic sweets have disappeared from the market]. WP Finanse (in Polish). 27 October 2011. Retrieved 27 August 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  27. ^ Przybysz, Monika (10 September 2020). "Co wspólnego ma 10 mln pszczół z popularnymi ciastkami? Będziesz zaskoczony odpowiedzią" [What do 10 million bees have to do with the popular cookies? You will be surprised by the answer]. naTemat (in Polish). Retrieved 27 August 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

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