99 Problems…but an ice cream ain’t one

Ahhhhhh the heatwave…do you remember those few weeks of summer when Europe sweltered and you were either complaining about the heat while working, or making the most of it out and about travelling?

Whatever you were doing, there was only one thing that would at the same time cool you down and make you look like a summer pro – ice cream!

Who doesn’t like ice cream?  There are many different types (with an increasing lactose free range) with all different types of flavours available for you to try (egg and bacon flavour anyone?!).  However, for us, there’s only one ice cream you should be indulging in.

Like many of the best things in life, it not only gives you immense pleasure, it also harks back to happy memories of your childhood running around care free knowing your mum would be on hand at some point with a napkin to wipe your face. 

We are of course talking about the coned delights you get from ice cream vans – the ‘99 Flake’!!

Ever Thought of Trying ice cream

Now that the heatwave is well behind us, but it’s still warm enough to grab a cheeky ice cream (is it ever too cold for ice cream…we think not!), have you ever wondered why it’s called a 99 Flake?  It’s certainly not because of its price…

It wasn’t even 99p ‘back in the day’.

As with many yummy things, the origins lie in Italy.  Many ice cream sellers in the UK during the early-to-mid-1900s were ex-pats from Italy and we can trace the 99 Flake origins to these Italians in County Durham who wanted to give their ice cream an added sparkle in the 1920's.  They decided to stick a Cadbury Flake into the ice cream to increase interest, stand out from the rest and get more people to part with their hard earned cash.

It turned out to be more popular than they could have imagined and decided they should come up with a memorable name for their pioneering creation…

At the time, Italy had a monarchy (up to 1946) and the King would choose a guard of 99 men to serve and protect him.  Subsequently, anything really special or first class was known as ‘99’ – which gave birth to the 99 Flake!

There are of course other theories and claims…

In Scotland, it’s said Stefano Arcari opened up an ice cream shop at 99 Portobello High Street where he would apparently break a Cadbury Flake in half and place it in the ice cream to serve to his customers, getting the name to his creation from his shop’s address.  This story has been passed down as a family legend, but there is no proof as such.

There’s also speculation the 99 Flake was named in honour of the I Ragazzi del 99, ‘the boys of 99’ – a group of soldiers born in 1899 and therefore the last to enlist in the First World War.  Some streets in Italy have been named after this group.

In Roman numerals, 99 is IC – Ice Cream...just saying...

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

If this has given you a taste for travel, join one of our foodie experiences across Europe where you delve into the gastronomic heartlands and even make your own gelato in Florence!