Why is an ice cream with a flake called a 99% ice cream?

by Alice

As summer brings in scorching temperatures, ice cream sales soar, especially the classic soft-serve treat served with a chocolate flake, commonly known as a “99.” But why the curious name?


The story traces back to Cadbury, the chocolate giant that birthed the Flake bar in 1920. The inspiration struck when excess chocolate from production formed delicate ripples, leading to the creation of the iconic bar.

Initially, the 99 was a chocolate bar tucked between two wafer biscuits. In 1930, Cadbury introduced a smaller Flake bar specifically for adorning soft ice cream, sold in boxes as 99 Flakes, unwrapped.

The origin of the name has spurred various theories over the years. Some attribute it to Stefano Arcari, an ice cream vendor at 99 Portobello High Street in Scotland, who allegedly coined the term after breaking Flakes in half and naming them after his address.

Others suggest it pays homage to the Boys of 99, revered Italian heroes of World War I, born in 1899. The shape of the Flake supposedly reminded Italian ice cream sellers of the feather worn by these heroes.

Dunkerleys of Gorton, Manchester, also claims to have contributed to the Flake’s creation at their shop on 99 Wellington Street.

Cadbury, however, maintains that while the origin may be hazy, the name was crafted to resonate with Italian vendors. According to their official explanation, in Italy, the King’s elite guard consisted of 99 soldiers, and anything exceptional was dubbed “99.”

Today, an ice cream cone adorned with a Flake 99 remains a beloved UK tradition, particularly among the Italian-dominated ice cream industry of yesteryears.

For those curious about further variations, adding two flakes to an ice cream earns the moniker “Bunny Ears,” while pairing a Flake with strawberry sauce is whimsically dubbed “Monkey’s Blood.”

So, the mystery behind the 99 Flake finally unveiled.


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