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Jaffa Cakes


Soft, spongy discs of baked, aerated egg-flour mixture, topped with orange jelly and chocolate, approximately 2 ¼ inches in diameter. Developed by McVitie & Price around 1927, they have been subject of considerable legal and philosophical debate as to whether they are a 'cake' or a 'biscuit'.

Jaffa Cake, cut
Image: Asim Saleem

Jaffa Cakes had been classified as cakes by their manufacturer. Sales tax (VAT) is not charged on biscuits or cakes, but it is charged on chocolate covered biscuits. In 1991 HM Customs and Excise (as HMRC was then called) challenged the classification of Jaffa Cakes. The case went to court and the adjudicator Mr Potter QC judged that Jaffa Cakes are cakes. His brilliant conceptual analysis of cakes and biscuits is supplied here, thanks to the philosopher Tim Crane.


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