Cadbury flake now too crumbly for 99 cones, say ice-cream sellers

<span>Photograph: Peter Adams Photography Ltd/Alamy</span>
Photograph: Peter Adams Photography Ltd/Alamy

The flake was once so lauded because of its melt-in-the-mouth texture that its adverts described it as the “crumbliest, flakiest milk chocolate in the world” – but now ice-cream sellers are complaining they are too flaky to do their job on a 99 cone.

The row has broken out as the first warm spell of the year prompted queues to form at Mr Whippy vans around the country. Vendors insist the quality of the treat – officially called the “Cadbury 99 flake” – has deteriorated since production was moved to Egypt.

Ice-cream sellers say they are being asked to pay through the nose for a box of shards. “You can’t give someone a 99 with a broken flake,” John Taylor, the owner of C&M Creamery Ices, told the BBC. “It’s embarrassing for an ice-cream man.”

The British love affair with the 99 cone and, therefore, the strength of views on flake quality is not to be underestimated. In 2021, when lockdown ended the clamour to enjoy a Mr Whippy led to a flake shortage.

To placate Mr Whippy fans, Lawrence Glauser, the owner of Lorenzo’s Ices in east Yorkshire, said he had resorted to buying a German imitation. “Customers don’t seem to mind; the German ones are a lot denser and don’t seem to fall apart as easily.”

Cadbury flake chocolate bar on white background
Ice-cream sellers say the quality of the Cadbury flake has deteriorated since production was moved to Egypt. Photograph: Rachel Husband/Alamy

Flake ice-cream toppers are half the size of the chocolate bars sold in newsagents and supermarkets, with the mini versions, aimed at the hospitality trade, manufactured outside Cairo in Egypt.

Wholesale boxes typically contain 144 flake 99s. Katy Alston, who operates a van in Bognor Regis and is also president of the Ice Cream Alliance, said she has had to throw half away in some cases.

“We’ve thrown away 70 in a single box before because they’ve all been broken,” Alston said. “For the first time, I won’t be using Cadbury flake this year. It feels a different product. If you order a 99, you want a good solid flake in it.”

Cadbury has been owned by the US multinational Mondelēz since 2010. The company, which has been making flake 99 in Egypt since 2020, insisted the recipe had not changed and it took issues about quality “very seriously”.

“Cadbury flake 99 is a naturally delicate and crumbly product,” a spokesperson said. “We are aware that recently some customers have received a product which does not meet our usual high standards.

“This has been addressed following recent improvements to our production processes, although some prior stock may remain in circulation. We are in the process of liaising with our customers (wholesalers) to support those potentially impacted.”