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Jaffa Cakes

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Jaffa Cakes
Jaffa cake.png
A Jaffa Cake cut in half
Alternative names Jaffa
Type Cake
Place of origin United Kingdom
Region or state All Regions
Created by McVitie and Price
Main ingredients Sponge cake, orange-flavoured jam, chocolate
Variations Various limited edition flavours (Lemon and lime, strawberry, black currant)
Cookbook: Jaffa Cakes  Media: Jaffa Cakes

Jaffa Cakes are biscuit-sized cakes 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.[1] Jaffa cakes are also available as bars or in small packs, and in larger and smaller sizes.[2] The original Jaffa Cakes come in packs of 12, 24 or 36.[3]

Because McVitie's did not trademark the name "Jaffa Cakes", other biscuit manufacturers and supermarkets have made similar products under the same name.[4] 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 the Jaffa cake should be considered a cake for tax purposes.[5] In 2012 they were ranked the best selling cake or biscuit in the United Kingdom.[6]


McVitie's entire line of Jaffa cakes are produced in the United Kingdom at the McVitie's factory in Stockport.[7] 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.[4] 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.[8]

Flavour variants

Although Jaffa cakes are usually orange flavour, limited edition flavours have been available, such as lemon-and-lime,[9] strawberry[10] and blackcurrant.[11]

Categorisation as cake or biscuit for VAT

In the United Kingdom, value added tax is payable on chocolate-covered biscuits, but not on chocolate-covered cakes.[12] 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.[13] McVities insisted that the product was a cake, and allegedly produced a giant Jaffa cake in court to illustrate its point.[13] The product was assessed on the following criteria:[14][15]

  • 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 batter 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 the Jaffa cake, in terms of bulk and texture, is sponge.
  • In size, the 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 found in favour of McVitie's and ruled that the product should be considered a cake, meaning that VAT is not paid on Jaffa cakes in the United Kingdom.[12][16]

In Ireland, Jaffa cakes are regarded as cakes by Revenue as their moisture content is greater than 12%. As a result, they are charged the reduced rate of VAT (13.5% as of 2016).[17]


  1. ^ "Labelling rules". Food Standards Agency. 9 April 2008. Archived from the original on 20 July 2008. 
  2. ^ "Jaffa Cake's lemon squeezy bar". Retrieved 25 August 2010. 
  3. ^ "Jaffa Cakes, A Cake Or Buscuit?". ColdRicePudding. 1 January 2009. Retrieved 22 June 2010. 
  4. ^ a b Harry Wallop (6 May 2012). "Jaffa Cakes - definitely not biscuits - prepare to take on imitators". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 3 January 2013. 
  5. ^ VAT Tribunal case LON/91/0160 (United Biscuits)
  6. ^ "Jaffa Cakes - definitely not biscuits - prepare to take on imitators". The Telegraph. Retrieved 28 December 2014
  7. ^ "The factory where life is sweet". Manchester Evening News. 17 April 2012. Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
  8. ^ "Machine Vision for the Inspection of Natural Products – Google Books". Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  9. ^ "McVitie's Jaffa Cakes Lemon and Lime". Retrieved 22 June 2010. 
  10. ^ "McVitie's launches limited edition Strawberry-flavoured Jaffa Cakes". 27 April 2009. Retrieved 22 June 2010. 
  11. ^ "Jaffa Cakeover". The Daily Record. 12 December 2005. Retrieved 22 June 2010. 
  12. ^ a b Lee, Natalie (2011). Revenue Law Principles and Practice. A&C Black. p. 1009. ISBN 9781847667663. 
  13. ^ a b "What you do – and don't – pay VAT on". Which? Magazine. 24 June 2010. Retrieved 27 September 2012. 
  14. ^ "United Kingdom VAT & Duties Tribunals Decisions – Torq Ltd v Revenue and Customs [2005]". British and Irish Legal Information Institute. Retrieved 27 September 2012. 
  15. ^ "Excepted items: Confectionery: The bounds of confectionery, sweets, chocolates, chocolate biscuits, cakes and biscuits: The borderline between cakes and biscuits". 
  16. ^ "The borderline between cakes and biscuits". Retrieved 28 April 2013. 
  17. ^ JAFFA CAKES ( Food and drink for human consumption ) at the Wayback Machine (archived January 7, 2018)
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