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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
Region or stateAll Regions
Created byMcVitie and Price
Main ingredientsSponge cake, orange-flavoured jam, chocolate
VariationsVarious limited edition flavours (Lemon and lime, strawberry, black currant)

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 now come in packs of 10, 20, 30, or 40, having been downsized in 2017 from 12 or 24 per pack.[3]

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.[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] McVities launched limited-edition pineapple flavour Jaffa cakes in early 2020.[12]


In the United Kingdom, value added tax is payable on chocolate-covered biscuits, but not on chocolate-covered cakes.[13] 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.[14] McVities insisted that the product was a cake, and allegedly produced a giant Jaffa cake in court to illustrate its point.[14] The product was assessed on the following criteria:[15][16]

  • 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.[13][17]

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).[18]


  1. ^ "Labelling rules". Food Standards Agency. 9 April 2008. Archived from the original on 20 July 2008.
  2. ^ "Jaffa Cake's lemon squeezy bar". Archived from the original on 29 September 2011. Retrieved 25 August 2010.
  3. ^ "Jaffa Cakes packet size reduced in latest 'shrinkflation' move". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 May 2020.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ "VAT Tribunal case LON/91/0160 (United Biscuits)". Archived from the original on 10 February 2019. Retrieved 9 February 2019.
  6. ^ "Jaffa Cakes - definitely not biscuits - prepare to take on imitators" Archived 17 June 2018 at the Wayback Machine. The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 28 December 2014
  7. ^ "The factory where life is sweet". Manchester Evening News. 17 April 2012. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
  8. ^ Mark Graves; Bruce Batchelor (2003). Machine Vision for the Inspection of Natural Products. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 403. ISBN 978-1-85233-525-0.
  9. ^ "McVitie's Jaffa Cakes Lemon and Lime". Archived from the original on 26 July 2011. 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. ^ Abernethy, Laura (27 January 2020). "McVitie's launches new pineapple flavour Jaffa Cakes". Metro. Retrieved 7 March 2020.
  13. ^ a b Lee, Natalie (2011). Revenue Law Principles and Practice. A&C Black. p. 1009. ISBN 9781847667663.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ "United Kingdom VAT & Duties Tribunals Decisions – Torq Ltd v Revenue and Customs [2005]". British and Irish Legal Information Institute. Retrieved 27 September 2012.
  16. ^ "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.
  17. ^ "The borderline between cakes and biscuits". Archived from the original on 17 April 2013. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
  18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 January 2018. Retrieved 7 January 2018.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)