Jaffa Cakes, cake, biscuit or something else? Why should Jaffa Cakes be named as they are? Well Jaffa comes from Jaffa Oranges, which are named after the Israeli city of Jaffa. But then why should they be called Jaffa Cakes when they look so much like biscuits? In fact whether Jaffa Cakes are cakes, biscuits or something else has been the subject of much controversy in the United Kingdom.
Under UK law no value added tax (VAT) is placed on biscuits or cakes. But critical to the controversial issue of Jaffa Cakes’ name, when a biscuit is covered in chocolate it becomes subject to the standard VAT rate of 17.5%. Mcvities, the market leaders for Jaffa Cakes classed them as cakes, not biscuits, but this classification was challenged by Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise in 1991.
In the end the case ended up in the courts and the court were forced to answer the question of when something should be classed as a cake and when it should be classed as a biscuit. Answering this general question would then lead easily into a decision related to ‘Jaffa Cake, cake or biscuit?’
So what happened? Is a Jaffa Cake a cake? Happily for us Jaffa Cake lovers who would not relish the prospect of having to pay another 17.5% for our Jaffa Cakes, the court ruled in favour of Mcvities. One of the critical aspects of the argument was related to what happens when biscuits or cakes go stale. The court found, as anyone who has forgotten to put the lid on their biscuit tin properly will know, that when biscuits go stale they go softer. But when cakes go stale they go harder. The test was done, and when Jaffa cakes are left exposed to the air they get harder. So Jaffa cakes are definitely cakes and not biscuits. We recommend that you do the test to see for yourself, because unlike disgusting soggy biscuits, when Jaffa cakes go stale the new harder type of Jaffa cake you get is actually still delicious.
Just one more interesting Jaffa Cake fact all about their name: During the court battle between Mcvities and Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise, Mcvities baked a giant Jaffa Cake to prove that Jaffa cakes were really cakes and not biscuits. I don’t know what you think, but our taste buds are definitely watering thinking about a giant Jaffa Cake!