A 99 Flake can refer to an ice cream cone with a Cadbury Flake inserted in it; a specially produced Flake bar for this purpose; or a wrapped ice cream cone product marketed by Cadbury. It was originally designed to be a cuboid, and fit into a wafer. It was later adapted for a cone.
99 ice cream
A 99 Flake ice cream, or more commonly a 99 or ninety-nine, is an ice cream cone, usually made with soft serve ice cream, into which a Flake bar has been inserted. The ice cream is usually vanilla flavoured. They are sold by ice cream vans and parlours. Variations include a 99 with two flakes - often referred to as a double 99 or "bunny's ears" - and a 99 with strawberry or raspberry syrup on top, sometimes known as monkey's blood.
There are many references to 99s in British pop culture. The pop-electronica duo The KLF used ice-cream van iconography and included the phrase "Make mine a 99" in their 1991 single version of "Justified and Ancient".
Cadbury 99 Flake bar
The Flake chocolate bar itself was first developed in the UK in 1920. An employee of Cadbury's noted that when the excess from the moulds used to create other chocolate bars was drained off, it fell off in a stream and created folded chocolate with flaking properties. In 1930, Cadbury started producing a smaller version of the standard Flake bar especially for ice cream cones. These were marketed under the name 99 Flake and sold loose in boxes rather than individually wrapped like the traditional Flake.
The origins of the name are uncertain. One claim is that it was coined in Portobello, Scotland when Stephen Arcari, who opened a shop in 1922 at 99 Portobello High Street, would break a large 'Flake" in half and stick it in an ice cream. The name came from the shop's address. A Cadbury representative took the idea to his company.
For a long time during the 1990s, a 99 Flake typically sold for 99 pence, leading many to believe that its price was the origin of its name. However, for the majority of its history, the 99 Flake sold for considerably less than 99p. The similarity was therefore only a temporary coincidence.
Another possibility, is that it was named by Italian ice-cream sellers (many from mountainous areas in the Veneto, Trentino, Bellunese, and Friuli) in honour of the final wave of conscripts from the First World War, born in 1899 and referred to as "i Ragazzi del 99" - the Boys of '99. They were held in such high esteem that some streets in Italy were named in honour of them. The chocolate flake may have reminded them of the Alpine Regiment's hat, with a long dark feather cocked at an angle.
The Cadbury website says that the reason behind the Flake being called a 99 has been "lost in the mists of time" although it also repeats an article from an old Cadbury works paper, which states the name came from the guard of the Italian king which consisted of 99 men and "subsequently anything really special or first class was known as 99."
- "My grandad created the '99' cone in Portobello". The Scotsman. 18 January 2006. Retrieved 15 February 2012.
- "ninety, adj. and n.". OED Online. June 2013. Oxford University Press. 2013-07-18.
- Oliver Thring (24 August 2010). "Consider the 99 Flake". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 November 2010.
- "Corporate history of the product". Cadbury. Archived from the original on 2006-08-22. Retrieved 2011-04-17.
- Cadbury FAQ on names of products, Cadbury