I tested Jaffa Cakes to find the best value for money – the results might surprise you


On Twitter there have been jousts around Jaffas since I posted a picture of the samples I was trying out (you can find it on @XantheClay). For one thing, do those that aren’t orange even count? After all, McVitie’s created flavors of pineapple, lemon and lime, passion fruit, cherry and blackcurrant.

There are also several Polish Jaffa Cake-style confections, including the Delicje brand, which comes in strawberry, raspberry and blueberry, and is apparently excellent. But the fussy in me wants to neglect them all – after all, the name is Jaffa.

However, it turns out that the original Jaffa Cake was completely orange-free, made with apricot jam and tangerine oil (marketing laws then being more relaxed), so it shouldn’t be be too purist.

Recently, Jaffa Cake riffs have been taken to new heights – or lower, depending on your perspective – by Krispy Kreme, the creators of American-style sweet donuts. They sell a Jaffanut, a squishy donut filled with an “orange filling” and covered in a “dark chocolate glaze”. I doubt they’ll fight the coin toss with the IRS over this.

Back with the regular Jaffa cake, which is, frankly, a lavish enough combination that it seems a bit Marie Antoinette to insist that the cakes are must-haves. Why does calling them cookies turn them into a luxury? Seventeenth-century sailors who subsisted on ship’s biscuits on long voyages might have disputed this: Samuel Pepys, in his day-to-day job as a naval administrator, set daily rations at one pound per man, even though they were not coated in chocolate, but “good, clean, soft, wholesome, well bolted with horse-cloth, well-baked and well-conditioned wheaten biscuit”.

The controversy does not end there. It turns out the chocolate layer is on the bottom of the cake, not the top, because the sponges are dipped flat in a tub of chocolate; the chocolate is at the bottom, according to McVitie’s. But eating them that way makes the sponge stick to the roof of your mouth, so that’s clearly nonsense. This raises bigger questions though, like why doesn’t the little jelly disk fall into the lake of melted chocolate?

Big philosophical debates aside, we love our Jaffa Cakes. The Annual Biscuit Review compiled by Pladis, owner of McVitie’s, ranks its Jaffa Cakes as the third best-selling cookie brand in the country after McVitie’s Chocolate Digestives and Nestle’s KitKat. Yes, that’s right, cookie brand. So now they say it’s a cookie? Nobody tells customs.

What are the best value for money Jaffa cakes?


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