Jaffas, with their chocolate core and orange-flavoured shell, were made by James Stedman-Henderson’s Sweets Ltd of Sydney under the brand Sweetacres. The brand was bought by Hoadley who were in turn taken over by Nestlé. They were a favourite in cinemas, where the sound of spilled Jaffas rattling down the wooden floors became a familiar accompaniment to Saturday matinees.
The Sweetacres food chemist who developed the orange flavour was Tom Colston Coggan. It seems he experimented with a wide array of syrups before settling on the final orange flavour. The lollies were named after Jaffa, a town in Palestine famous for its oranges. Jaffas have become one of the all-time Australian classics. They’re now sold under Nestlé’s Allen’s brand.
I wrote a television commercial in the late 1970s that talked about “rolling your Jaffas down the aisle”. Featuring the Melbourne-based band Captain Matchbox, it asserted that:
“You can’t do it any more,
They’ve put carpet on the floor
And the Jaffas get caught up in the shag pile.”
The expression “rolling Jaffas down the aisle” seems to have been adopted as a piece of folklore, although the errant lollies usually rolled down the wooden floor under the seats themselves. The aisles were generally the only carpeted areas in the cinema.
In New Zealand the brand is owned by Cadbury. Each year in Dunedin, New Zealand, more than 30,000 Jaffas are rolled down Baldwin Street, the world’s steepest street. It’s part of the Cadbury Chocolate Carnival – an event at the New Zealand International Science Festival.