Published: 14:15, 22 June 2022
| Updated: 14:56, 22 June 2022
Cadbury says it is having to manage Flake 99 stocks 'carefully' because of shortages of the crumbly chocolate treat made for the top of ice cream cones.
Despite being just days into summer, the humble stick of chocolate looks set to join crisps and snacks, cooking oil and fish and chips as foods facing worldwide supply issues in 2022.
There are suggestions the UK's ice cream vendors could face rationing in the coming weeks to ensure a steady flow of the summer staple, which at half the size of a regular Cadbury Flake, is designed specifically for a whippy ice cream nicknamed a 99.
Parent company Mondalez International, which is believed to now produce the majority of Cadbury Flake 99s in Egypt, says alongside being hit by problems like many other global firms it had also been caught out by unexpected demand at the start of the year.
A company spokesman explained: ""In line with what many other companies are reporting, we have been experiencing some global supply chain disruptions, alongside a recent increase in demand for the product in the UK and Ireland above the levels that we had anticipated at the start of the year."
Mondalez says while Flake 99s are available to buy, a close eye was being kept on stock to make sure all sellers had continued access to the chocolate.
Its spokesman added: "Flake 99 is available for our customers to order but, for now, we are just carefully managing stock allocation fairly across all our customers."
With many weeks of summer ahead - and the UK having only experienced one brief hot spell so far this month - news that there could be a potential shortage of the popular chocolate has been described as 'disappointing' by The Ice Cream Alliance, which represents the nation's vendors.
A spokesman for the group added: "There is, once again, a shortage of the flake product. This is disappointing to our members and their customers as the flake product is synonymous with the whippy ice cream known as the flake99 and enjoyed throughout the UK, especially during the summer months.
"The ICA hopes that the supply issue is resolved as soon as possible to benefit both our members, the ice cream industry and their customers."
Struggling businesses were hit with similar problems last May, when an easing of lockdown restrictions saw households flock to open spaces to meet friends and family outdoors, which led to a sudden demand for 99s as people re-united over an ice cream in the park.
The shortage led to a fiercely contested debate on social media about the snacks most able to successfully fill the void left by the Flake with people suggesting everything from a chopped up Cadbury Twirl to a Freddo chocolate for the top instead.
The origin of the name 99 prompts similar levels of debate each year as many believe the treat first took its name because it used to cost 99p from ice cream vendors.
But Cadbury says the exact origins of the 99 have been somewhat lost over time and points to a reference connected to the Italian monarchy, where native Italian ice cream sellers named the ice cream style after a guard of 99 men that would protect royalty and subsequently anything decadent was nicknamed 'a 99'.
Other theories involve a suggestion that it dates back to Scotland in 1922 when an ice cream shop opened at 99 Portobello High Street and the cone took its name from the shop's address. While others believe the name honours Italian First World War conscripts, born in 1899, who had long feathers in their hats which resembled chocolate flakes.