The orangey, chocolatey treats have been under the scrutinous lens of snack enthusiasts for decades, asking the age-old question: is a Jaffa Cake a cake or a biscuit?

image of Jaffa Cakes next to Jaffa Cake box
Credit: Irish News (2017)

Jaffa Cakes are in fact cakes

Jaffa Cakes, made by McVitie’s, were first produced in 1927 and are made with a tangy orange jam, sandwiched between a layer of dark chocolate and a light sponge base. McVitie’s described the well-known treat as a cake; however, this led to legal action due to discrepancies around VAT laws. VAT is added to chocolate-covered biscuits, but not for chocolate-covered cakes. McVitie’s even produced a giant Jaffa Cake for the court case to show its cake credentials on a larger scale. The case in 1991 found that Jaffa Cakes are actually cakes! So, the all-important question if a Jaffa Cake is a cake or a biscuit, was answered. But the decision was not an easy one.

Jaffa Cakes have some biscuit qualities

While Jaffa Cakes are called cakes, they’re usually found in the biscuit aisle and are packaged like traditional biscuits. They are also eaten like regular biscuits, with your hands, while cakes are usually enjoyed with a fork or spoon. Jaffa Cakes are also viewed as a snack, like biscuits, eaten between meals or on the go, while cake is more of a dessert enjoyed at the end of a meal or as a part of a celebration. These qualities all favour the biscuit category – however, Jaffa cakes are officially classified as cakes. Sorry, those on the biscuit side!

Image of Jaffa Cakes on top of a giant chocolate orange cake.
Credit: Ria Osborne

The Jaffa Cake

The name aside, there are many reasons why Jaffa Cakes are in fact cakes. Its ingredients are similar to a cake’s, made with egg, flour and sugar. When baked, the end result is a light, moist sponge that makes up most of the Jaffa Cake. They arguably taste more like a cake than a biscuit too, with a light, airy texture. The cake layer is made of genoise sponge, a cake mixture used to make other small cakes such as sponge fingers. Other chocolate orange snacks, like Jaffa Mini Rolls, have been released recently, aligning the popular treat with cakes such as the swiss roll.

McVitie’s now describe the Jaffa Cake as ‘the irresistible chocolatey-orange rascal’, alluding to this debate that is very much a part of British confectionary culture. In a television ad in 2021, McVitie’s referenced the ‘Cake or Biscuit’ debate, with a man concluding that if a Jaffa Cake is a cake, he can also be whatever he wants to be. This was the first Jaffa Cake advert since 2006. It’s no longer Team Cake or Team Biscuit, but rather that we, as well as our snacks, can be whatever we want. 

Rootles Snacks

Rootles are delicious, chocolatey, and healthier biscuits that make a unique alternative to regular chocolate-based snacks. There’s a high chance that you haven’t had a biscuit baked with real root veg before! So, while some are still debating whether Jaffa Cakes are cakes or biscuits, others are snacking on healthy snacks with a difference – biscuits made with carrots and sweet potato, coated in chocolate!

Rootles – not cake, just deliciously unconventional biscuits.

A debate amongst Rootles lovers is whether the milk or dark chocolate variety is more delicious. Why not try both and decide for yourself!