Jaffa "Cakes" & Biscuit Taxonomy

Are Jaffa Cakes Biscuits or Cakes?

  • Biscuits

    Votes: 3 23.1%
  • Cakes

    Votes: 5 38.5%
  • Both

    Votes: 4 30.8%
  • Neither

    Votes: 1 7.7%

  • Total voters
    13

Yithian

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#1
Cake or biscuit?

Under UK law, no VAT is charged on biscuits and cakes — they are "zero rated". Chocolate covered biscuits, however, are classed as luxury items and are subject to VAT at 17.5%. McVitie's classed its Jaffa Cakes as cakes, but in 1991, this was challenged by Her Majesty's Customs and Excise in court. This may have been because Jaffa Cakes are about the same size and shape as some types of biscuit. The question which had to be answered was what criteria should be used to class something as a cake or biscuit. McVitie's defended the classification of Jaffa Cakes as a cake by producing a giant Jaffa Cake to illustrate that their Jaffa Cakes were simply mini cakes.

They also argued that the distinction between cakes and biscuits is simply that cakes go hard when stale, whereas biscuits go soft. It was demonstrated that Jaffa Cakes become hard when stale and McVitie's won the case.

The issue was revisited in an article entitled 'Are Jaffa Cakes really biscuits?' published in the Journal of Unlikely Science (Volume 1, issue 7, 2005). The article attempted to classify biscuits via a scientific analysis of various features (size, shape, filling etc.) and determined that the Jaffa Cake should be regarded as a biscuit, or 'pseudobiscuit'.

When the shelf life of an average biscuit product is exceeded, the texture begins to soften and dampen, thus determining a key difference between defining a 'biscuit' from a 'cake'. Furthermore, when the shelf life ("Best Before Date") of jaffa cakes has been exceeded, the texture begins to harden and go stale, not unlike bread and common sponge cakes etc., Thus Proving that jaffa cakes are in fact cakes.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaffa_cake
Which leads us to:

ARE JAFFA CAKES REALLY BISCUITS?

The Affinities of Jaffa Cakes: Using Cladistics to Classify Biscuits



Fig 1. Cladogram of biscuits based on a cladistic analysis


By Adam Stuart Smith


Abstract
A classification of biscuits is proposed, based on a scientifically sound cladistic methodology. The most important factor in the broad classification of biscuits is their shape, not the presence of absence of a chocolate coating, as endorsed by previous phenetic classifications. Of perhaps the greatest significance in this analysis is the unexpected confirmation that in a simple dichotomising classification of cakes and biscuits, the Jaffa Cake is a biscuit. As a logical solution, these results suggest that the implementation of a three-way classification is necessary, including a new group of biscuit-cake intermediates, the pseudobiscuits. This study may have much significance in our every day lives, not only because of the novel terminology, but also because of the link between government food classification and tax brackets.

Introduction
When Carolus Linnaeus first devised his classification of life in 1735, there was no underlying phylogenetic justification. His system, like all classifications biological or otherwise was ultimately a utilitarian tool – simply put, a classification of life should be useful (Benton, 2000). It is from this viewpoint, that I came to construct a concise classification of another group of disparate objects, albeit a little less diverse than life itself – the biscuits. Biscuits are not the first inanimate objects to be subjected to taxonomic analysis. Mobile phones and volcanoes (Hone et al. in prep) are other examples. Cladistics has also been applied to those idiosyncratic cartoon characters, the Mr Men (Braddy pers comm. 2003).

Aims of the paper
The only other classification of biscuits, I am aware of, is given by Nicey and Wifey (2004a). The scheme is constructed using simple phenetics. Although the detailed interrelationships are not discussed, they give two broad types of biscuits: biscuits and chocolate biscuits. These are each subdivided into three smaller groups; entry level, midrange, and luxury. These categories represent the increasingly complicated form and constitution of the biscuits. This paper aims to test this taxonomic hypothesis using cladistic methods, whilst illustrating the potential of this method for constructing other classifications of everyday objects.


Materials and Methods
A cladistic analysis was performed to ascertain a scientifically valid and robust classification of biscuits. A data matrix (Appendix 1) composed of 20 morphological characters (Appendix 2) and 20 biscuits and biscuit-like snacks, was run through the computer program PAUP (Swofford, 2000) (phylogenetic analysis using pastries?) (Heuristic Search, 1000 random replicates). The simple sponge cake was chosen as a conservative outgroup and used to determine the polarity of the characters. The resulting strict consensus tree is depicted in fig 1.

[b]Discussion[/b]

[b]Pseudobiscuits[/b]
The Jaffa Cake has long been a disputed member of the biscuit Order (Pootle, 2004). In his report “Jaffa Cakes are Cakes - Proof from the Courtroom”, Archibald (2004) describes a courtroom battle and the various evidences, leading to the decision of the British Government to classify the Jaffa Cakes as a cake, immunising Jaffa Cakes from VAT. Nicey and Wifey (2004b) leave no doubt that the Jaffa is clearly a cake. The following response is given on their website (Nicey and Wifey 2004a), to the frequently asked question: “Are Jaffa Cakes biscuits?”

“No, no they're not. Apart from being called cakes they obviously have a sponge base. Granted they appear to be some kind of luxury biscuit being chocolate covered and shipping in a box.” [italics added].

The argument that the word ‘cake’ appears in the name is a simple issue of semantics. Using this logic one may argue that shortcake is a cake. Objects are classified based on their appearance. According to the current analysis using parsimony, if the Jaffa Cake IS indeed a cake, then so are Fig Rolls and Jammie Dodgers (an unarguable situation). This is because these two biscuits show closer affinities with the Jaffa Cake than with any other biscuits. So according to this classification, the Jaffa cake IS a biscuit after all. It therefore seems there is no simple dichotomy between cakes and biscuits. However, it is possible to make a compromise between a biscuit and cake affinity for Jaffa cakes, by allocating this group a new name. I propose the name Pseudobiscuits for this clade of three genera, on account of their close kinship with both cakes and biscuits. All other biscuits, can be referred to as ‘true biscuits’.

[b]True biscuits[/b]
True biscuits split into two more or less equal sized groups, distinguished by their shape: The Rounds and the Angulars. This indicates that shape is a far more significant factor in classifying a biscuit than whether it is chocolate covered or not (contra Nicey and Wifey, 2004a). However, there is a clear transition within each group from simple to complex, confirming the observations of Nicey and Wifey. The Rounds include, as their most simple members, the rusk and similar forms. This group culminates in the well-known dunking forms. Although double-layered Rounds are known, they are a rarity and have been omitted from the current analysis. In contrast, the Angulars acquired a greater variation in form and colour. Although most angulars, such as the humble shortbread, retained a simple flat structure, some forms exhibit extreme diversions from this condition, exhibiting exotic colours, double-layers and fillings. The Penguin even dons an individual waterproof wrapping. These angulars can be further subdivided into the families Partydae (the children’s party biscuits) and the Bourbidae (the bourbons and close relatives). The party biscuits include colourful members, such as the pink wafer, and unusually for angulars, round party rings.

[b]The Future[/b]
Future cladistic analyses should include many more genera of biscuits, and more cakes, to confirm a comprehensive classification. Biscuits have a temporal duration and origin, and it would be interesting to see if there are any evolutionary patterns to the origin of biscuits There may also be a link between the evolution of dinosaurs and biscuits, as suggested by Smith (2004). There are obviously other ways of classifying biscuits, such as their respective ingredients, but what this study shows, is that it is possible to approach a classification from a more-or-less objective, rather than subjective standpoint. Perhaps the governments should take note of this, when applying controversial foods such as Jaffa Cakes, to tax brackets. Unfortunately, perhaps they would be successful in their next attempt to add biscuit tax to the Jaffa cake. If so, then…sorry folks!

[b]Conclusion[/b]

A cladistic analysis of biscuits shows that the biscuits can be classified as follows:

Pseudobiscuits: Jaffa Cake, Fig Roll, Jammie Dodger.
True biscuits:
Rounds: Digestive, Chocolate Digestive, Richtea, Hobnob, Choc-Chip Cookie, Macaroon, Rusk, Gingernut.
Angulars: Shortbread, Chocolate finger, Garibaldi
Bourbidae: Bourbon, Penguin, Custardcream. Nice
Partydae: Partyring, Minigems, Pinkwafer

See here: [url=http://www.plesiosauria.com/dinobiscuits/biscuit.htm]http://www.plesiosauria.com/dinobiscuits/biscuit.htm[/url] - for acknowledgements, appendicies, and notes.[/quote]
 

_Lizard23_

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#2
WTF is 'pseudo-biscuit' about a jammy dodger, that's what I'd like to know.

Surely the custardcream is exactly the same thing, but with cream instead of jam.

Tchoi!

When I was little it confused me no end that the famous five etc would have a plate of cakes. To me, cakes were big things you cut slices of. I knew those kids were rich but ..... Individual 'cakes' in little paper cases were buns. Apparently elephants liked buns, but I suspect what they really liked were teacakes, aka breadrolls (no currants in mine, thank you - that'd be a fruit teacake). I am so glad the law never got involved, it is surely madness to try and legislate over matters of linguistics.

Jaffa cakes are surely biscuits. They come in a pack like biscuits, they are the size and shape of biscuits, you eat them like biscuits. This staleness nonsense is surely a smokescreen!

etc etc

/rant about unimportant stuff
 

tilly50

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#3
The sponge bit of a jaffa cake is a bit like that of what are locally known as "ladies fingers". A bakers in the next town still makes then I think. The cake batter is spooned onto a flat baking tray in thin lines about 3 inches long. These are baked quickly to retain the shape. If you just spooned a dollop of the batter in the tray you would have a round shape.

The jaffa cake sponge is a direct descendant of the little cakes served with tea and coffee in Georgian times and much loved in France at the time. They were dipped into the drink before being eaten (like some dunk biscuits or donuts nowadays) They were flavoured with lemon or orange.
 

WhistlingJack

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#4
Of course they're bleedin' cakes! Stand up for the Jaffa Cake now, before they start picking on French Fancies and Jam Tarts!!
 

Fizz32

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#5
When a cake goes stale, it goes hard. When a biscuit goes stale, it goes soft.

Jaffa cakes go hard if they're allowed to get stale (which would never happen in this house) so therefore they're cakes.
 

mrbubz

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#6
I've always thought of them as biscuits.

But the stale/hard argument has changed my mind.

Sorry Lizard

:hungry emoticon:

They all go down the same way mind :D
 
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#8
If Ian Paisley drops in for tea DO NOT offer him jaffa cakes.

In Ireland bread is 0 rate VAT but cakes attract VAT. Scones with fruit count as bread depending on the % of fruit. A friend of mine had a summer job in a bakery making sure that too much fruit didnt go into the scones.
 

Timble2

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#9
CarlosTheDJ said:
Jaffa Cakes go in the biscuit tin (if I had one), so they must be biscuits.
When I buy Jaffa Cakes they don't last long enough to go in to the biscuit tin. I think they're cakes, but they don't last long enough to go into the cake tin either (which is actually the same tin, its name depends on its current function)
 

rynner2

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#10
So where does this leave Ship's Biscuits, the notoriously hard fare of the old sailing ship navy? You'd think they'd go soggy in the damp sea air, but apparently not.
At that time a number of small bakeries, were established in the cellars and basements of warehouses around the Liverpool dockside, where, on wet days, the steam rose from the roadways due to the heat from the ovens below. In these ovens were made 'hardtack', hard baked ships biscuits known as ship-bread.

These biscuits were hand-made under the crudest conditions from white flour and very little moisture, the dough being pounded very tight to produce almost white biscuits, so hard they require a hammer to break them. :shock: Such fare was necessary to provision the sailing ships which took many months to reach the distant ports of the world. 'Hardtack' kept for long periods without becoming rancid and were most invulnerable to insects and vermin. For this reason they became the mainstay of the men in the services and the crews of merchant ships.
http://www.n-le-w.co.uk/index.php?optio ... &Itemid=27


Ship's biscuit
There are references to Richard the Lionheart setting out from England in 1190 with his ships suitably stored with ‘biskit of muslin’ (mixed corn made of barley, rye and bean flour). Ships at the time of the Armada in 1588 had a theoretical daily allowance of 1 lb of biscuit but it was Samuel Pepys who first regularised Navy Victualling and worked out the first comprehensive table of rations which included ‘one pound daily of good, clean, sweet, sound, well baked and well conditioned wheaten biscuit (plus a galleon of beer and other victuals). Biscuits were still an important part of the sailor’s sea diet in Nelson’s time and remained so until bread and canned foods were introduced. Preserved beef in tins was issued officially in 1847 although some tinned items had been used previously for Arctic expeditions. Canned meat was first marketed in 1813. Bread became a Navy issue item in the mid 1850’s and was referred to as ‘soft’ bread in the Royal Navy to distinguish it from biscuits which had sometimes been called ‘bread’, the most well known term for ship’s biscuit being, however, hard tack.

The ingredients were stone ground flour, water and salt which were mixed into a stiff dough and baked in a hot oven for 30 minutes and then left to harden and dry. The museum has several examples of ships biscuits in the collection including one dating from 1784.
http://www.nmm.ac.uk/server/show/conWebDoc.17929
 

Creamstick1

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#11
My favourite biscuit is, has always been, and will forever be the Bourbon Cream.

As a child, how I would chuckle internally to myself when the cakes, biscuits ad sandwiches would be put out for visitors. "Fight! Fight amongst yourselves for the Jaffa Cakes, the Gold Bars, the Chocolate Fingers, the Mini-Rolls, the sliced Swiss Roll, the Brownies, the Ham-Cheese-and-Tomato Sandwiches!" I'd think to myself "I'll have the last laugh! I'll have enough bourbons to last through my entire cup of tea - maybe even the next one! If i want a sandwich, I'll go and make one with jam!"

Man, I hate visitors.
 

Ringo

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#12
I voted both because whilst I agree with the "going stale therefore a cake" school, I must also add that the method of consumption, quantity of consumption and packaging of product are all in keeping with a biscuit.

But as many have stated, they never last long enough to stand up to further analysis...


(I prefer Mint Viscounts actually, can you still get them in the UK?)
 

ted_bloody_maul

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#13
Look, whatever it is can't we just be thankful that this is one area of British life that we still have sovereignty over? It's bad enough that Brussels has its beady eye on our crisps without us falling into their trap of debating the biscuit/cake. When all those soldiers returned from Dunkirk d'you think they cared which one it was? No! All they knew was that they were home in a land where they had the freedom to make a taxonomic gaffe (not faux pas) on our traditional confections.

Long live the Jaffa Cake and the Empire biscuit.
 

PlagueRider

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#14
Creamstick1 said:
My favourite biscuit is, has always been, and will forever be the Bourbon Cream.
I second that.

Jaffas are cakes. They're not crunchy like a biscuit. And, like the name suggests, tis a Jaffa Cake, not a Jaffa Biscuit...
 

WhistlingJack

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#16
Despite the jam, meringue and chocolate, Tunnock's teacakes have a biscuit base and so are biscuits - for a real quandary, what's a cheesecake?
 

myf13

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#20
WhistlingJack said:
Despite the jam, meringue and chocolate, Tunnock's teacakes have a biscuit base and so are biscuits - for a real quandary, what's a cheesecake?
You've been given duds, my friend. Tunnock's teacakes have no jamminess in them! And it's not meringue - it's marshmallow.
 

WhistlingJack

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#21
My mistake - I confused meringue for marshmallow and Tunnock's teacakes for the smaller, inferior jam-filled versions. They still have a biscuit base though.
 

Mr_Seaweedski

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#22
This has made me remember about my friends Mum's Barabryth (sp? - Welsh tea bread). It was a kind of cake loaf with lots of dried fruit that had been soaked in tea to plump 'em up. It was the traditional weekly snack while role playing, and was affectionately known as 'Dwarf Bread'. Thankfully my friends mum was a Terry Pratchett fan and didn't take offence.

The one positive thing you could say about the bread products around him was that they were probably as edible now as they were on the day they were baked. Forged was a better term. Dwarf bread was made as a meal of last resort and also as a weapon and a currency. Dwarfs were not, as far as Vimes knew, religious in any way, but the way they thought about bread came close.

-- (Terry Pratchett, The Fifth Elephant)
 

Analogue Boy

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#24
The argument that a cake goes hard while a biscuit goes soft could vary according to the climatic or storage conditions and therefore possibly subjective. However, it has set a legal precedent.

I would suggest that the classification of these things stems from the name. The word Biscuit comes from the Latin "bis coctum" which means twice baked. If the product in question has a two-stage cooking process, we should assume it is biscuit based. Despite this, it seems obvious to me that the makers of the Jaffa Cake are trying to replicate a sponge cake in miniature. Although it's a guess, I reckon that the austerity of wartime rationing had much to do with it's creation as it offered the luxury of of sugary sponge and orangey jam with chocolate as if to say, 'This, England, is what you have been fighting for'.

It is rumoured that a blackcurrant version of these tasty minicakes has been available for a while but I have yet to encounter them as my research is currently taken up with the subject of Fox's Golden Crunch.
 

GNC

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#26
jimv1 said:
It is rumoured that a blackcurrant version of these tasty minicakes has been available for a while but I have yet to encounter them as my research is currently taken up with the subject of Fox's Golden Crunch.
I'll tell thee, I don't like blackcurrants and the blackcurrant Jaffa Cake is delicious. Unfortunately they don't seem to be making them anymore. Any recent sightings anyone?
 

WhistlingJack

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#27
I had some blackcurrant Jaffa Cakes and they were effing awful
- the lime ones were delicious, however.
 

GNC

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#28
WhistlingJack said:
I had some blackcurrant Jaffa Cakes and they were effing awful
Maybe that's why they've been discontinued if more people agree with you. What I really want is a raspberry Jaffa Cake. I know blackcurrants and raspberries aren't "Jaffa", so maybe we're meddling with the forces of nature here.
 

Analogue Boy

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#29
gncxx said:
WhistlingJack said:
I had some blackcurrant Jaffa Cakes and they were effing awful
Maybe that's why they've been discontinued if more people agree with you. What I really want is a raspberry Jaffa Cake. I know blackcurrants and raspberries aren't "Jaffa", so maybe we're meddling with the forces of nature here.
And as we have already seen, they're on shaky ground using the word 'Cake' too.
 

Graylien

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#30
There's no justification for classifyng Jammy Dodgers as a pseudobiscuit. If you took the jam away, what would you be left with? A biscuit - that's what! Adding jam to a biscuit doesn't stop it from being a biscuit, any more than adding sugar to a cup of tea stops it from being a cup of tea.
 
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