Cake, biscuit, or death?
August 7, 2011 5:01 PM   Subscribe

I am in the US and want to try Jaffa Cakes. The local Aldi has something that purports to be jaffa cakes under the "Cafe Bistro" brand for $1.99. Is this an acceptable substitute for the the real McVities Jaffa Cakes, or should I just find someplace to order them on the Intarwebs?
posted by Dr. Zira to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
If you have a (Cost Plus) World Market near you, they often have McVities products. I know I've seen Jaffa Cakes there in the past.
posted by Fortran at 5:14 PM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


LU Pim's Orange serves as a good replacement in a pinch. You might find this at Safeway or other local grocers.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:14 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, sorry: if you want to try Jaffa Cakes, it has to be McVities. Anything else is a pale substitute.

Also, make sure you get the full-size kind; Mini Jaffa Cakes have too much orangey bit relative to the cakey bit, so while they're nice, they shouldn't be your first introduction.

... and here's me stuck three hours' travel from the nearest shop selling British imports, and suddenly craving Jaffa Cakes, mutter grumble.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 5:40 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whatever brand you get, once you open them, you should eat them within a day or two before the cake goes stale. Or wrap them up, once opened.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:48 PM on August 7, 2011


It could just be the college towniness of the part of the US where I live but I can find Jaffa Cakes in the International Foods aisle at a couple of different local supermarkets. Is there a megamarket near you that might do the same?
posted by camyram at 5:50 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not a Jaffa Cake purist (Jammie Dodgers, on the other hand...) so I think Aldi's version is just fine; they have a pretty decent Choco Leibniz knock-off under the Cafe Bistro brand too. Alternatively, if you have a Russian/Eastern European grocery, the Delicje brand is fairly common, and has some nice non-orangey varieties.
posted by holgate at 5:57 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Tudor House gift shop in Santa Monica sells them and I think they ship. Theyre around the corner so if they dont, or if it costs an arm and a leg memail me and maybe I can send them.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:05 PM on August 7, 2011


(Oh, and if you are in dill pickle potato chip country I'll totally trade!)
posted by Room 641-A at 6:09 PM on August 7, 2011


You should definitely find a British food supplier to get the McVities, but I have indeed turned to the Lu's version when pining. If you have the chance, pick up some Hob Nobs while you're at it.
posted by rhizome at 6:28 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


There are no substitutes - Jaffa Cakes MUST be McVities. The knock-off brands just don't get the magic of the Jaffa correct.

In my area, World Market does not carry them and I have yet to find any import stores that I can physically visit that do either. I have my spies in the midwest looking for them at WM. Now I'll have to look into the Tudor House, thanks Room 641-A.
posted by guster4lovers at 6:36 PM on August 7, 2011


Fellow expat here: Yeah they're decent. As everyone above says not a patch on the original Jaffa Cakes but they'll do at a pinch.
posted by Webbster at 7:21 PM on August 7, 2011


Oh yeah, Ye Olde Kings Head Gift Shoppe here also has them!
posted by Room 641-A at 7:27 PM on August 7, 2011


My World Market does, but for that matter, my Safeway does--seriously, they have a little British Foods section. If you haven't checked their international food sections, give them a peek, if you've got Safeway there. The last place I lived with Aldi didn't have Safeway, but I think they have overlapping markets somewhere.
posted by wintersweet at 7:38 PM on August 7, 2011


I think it depends on whether you ask a purist or not. I've had McVities and Aldi's knock-off (as well as the LU version, which I see anywhere that sells LU items). Personally, I'd go for Aldi's because they're passable and they're the cheapest. I don't think it's worth paying more online just for the original. But, I'm not a purist. At the very least, you'll only be out $2.00 if you give Aldi's a go, and they won't ruin the Jaffa experience for you. If you like them, you're guaranteed to like McVities. But, yes, they're passable, IMO. (I agree they get dry and stale pretty quickly.. any brand and every flavor.. so, they should be eaten pretty quickly)
posted by Mael Oui at 7:47 PM on August 7, 2011


I think they are improved by being allowed to go a little stale. You should save at least a couple to eat that way.
posted by crabintheocean at 8:33 PM on August 7, 2011


I'll offer another vote for the Aldi ones being quite nice. I don't buy them any more, because the calorie-filled little buggers are too damn tasty.
posted by dansdata at 1:38 AM on August 8, 2011


Whatever brand you get, once you open them, you should eat them within a day or two before the cake goes stale.

What makes McVitie's Jaffa Cakes unique, of course, is the cutting-edge pre-staling technology McVitie's have developed, ensuring that every box is stale before it even leaves the factory.

I have come across the odd package of Jaffa Cakes that wasn't stale, but as this hasn't happened in the last few years I assume that McVitie's have finally worked out the flaws in their system.

(Bahlsen Messino are best-of-breed, and Pim's are pretty good.)
posted by wo is me at 2:44 AM on August 8, 2011


I'm not a purist, so I'd go for it. I find Aldi's generic products pretty decent most of the time.

That said, I'm in England and might be up for a biscuit/cookie swap...
posted by bibliophibianj at 3:18 AM on August 8, 2011


I actually think Lu Pimms are MUCH better. And they were pretty easily available in the US last time I was there.
posted by 8k at 3:35 AM on August 8, 2011


I think you're going to be so disappointed when you do taste a jaffa cake of any description as you've built them up in your mind so much to be something great when frankly...they're just kind of ok.

I think people love them for the nostalgia aspect as really they're just a bit of flavourless, soft and stale biscuit with some orange harder-than-jello glop on, covered in some third-rate chocolate-flavor coating. Not exactly gourmet eating and a freshly-baked cookie of any description would taste miles better.


I say go ahead and get the cheapie knock-offs and move on with your life, if you want my advice.
posted by hazyjane at 4:23 AM on August 8, 2011


My local US supermarket chain (Stop n Shop) also has a little mini-Brit import section, with both Jaffa cakes and (my favorite) Ribena. So do your due diligence at the local stores first!
posted by widdershins at 9:54 AM on August 8, 2011


I am not sure where you are located, but if you are in Southeast Michigan try Ackroyd's Scottish Bakery. They sell a lot of Scottish, British and Irish imports including McVities. It has been a few years since I have been in there so on the off chance you ARE in Michigan, give them a call first.
posted by click at 11:44 AM on August 8, 2011


OK-specific answer: I've had Jaffa cakes in the past from Canterbury Imports on N. May in Oklahoma City - but they've spent the last few years transitioning from "British" to "British/Near Eastern" to "There might be a couple of stale sugar pigs in the back. Gyro?". I would not at this point trust them to have Lipton's in stock. As far as I'm aware, the only in-state place likely to have McVitties is Things UK in Broken Arrow.

(Or you could just use the Internet like a schnook.)
posted by ormondsacker at 2:18 PM on August 8, 2011


Thanks, everyone! A very kind MeFite emailed me an offer to mail me a package of the real thing.

And Room 641-A: I don't know if we have dill pickle flavored chips at our local supermarkets here in Oklahoma, but I'll check and let you know if I come across them. We are not at the forefront of weird potato chip flavors like the Canadians (e.g., ketchup flavor). [ormondsacker, have you seen dill flavored chips anywhere around here?]
posted by Dr. Zira at 5:11 PM on August 8, 2011


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