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. Having been created at the Cadbury's factory in Bournville, England, the flake was originally designed to be a cuboid, and fit into a wafer. By 1930, Cadbury's was selling half-length Flake "99s" specifically for probing 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 and Irish 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". The 2006 episode of New Tricks titled "Ice Cream Wars" saw the team's attempt to buy 99s turn into an investigation, and DI Alec Hardy eats a ninety-nine in the first episode of the British drama Broadchurch.
Cadbury 99 Flake bar
The Flake chocolate bar manufactured and marketed by Cadburys 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 early "99" was a wafer and not a cone of ice cream. The small flake was placed between two servings of ice cream and then wafer biscuits placed on the top and bottom.
The origins of the name are uncertain. One claim is that it was coined in Portobello, Scotland when Stefano 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.
Another possibility is that it was named by Italian ice-cream sellers (many from mountainous areas in the Veneto, Trentino, Bellunes Alps 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 Alpini Regiments' 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.
- Oliver Thring (24 August 2010). "Consider the 99 Flake". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 November 2010.
- "ninety, adj. and n.". OED Online. June 2013. Oxford University Press. 2013-07-18.
- Horsford, Simon; Midgley, Neil; Morgan, Clive; Warman, Matt; Reynolds, Gillian (2006-05-29). "Today's TV & radio choices". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2018-04-07.
- "Corporate history of the product". Cadbury. Archived from the original on 2006-08-22. Retrieved 2011-04-17.
- Kick the Bucket and Swing the Cat, p. PA474, at Google Books (based on the BBC television series Balderdash and Piffle), 2011
- Cadbury FAQ on names of products, Cadbury