Supply problems and soaring demand has caused a shortage of the crumbliest chocolate that traditionally elevates ice-cream cones to 99 status.
Despite the cold start to the summer, demand for mini Flakes has intensified in recent weeks while supply has struggled to keep up, and 99s are now at risk of disappearing from shops, vans and ice-cream parlours entirely.
Cone connoisseurs across the Irish ice-cream industry have said they have never seen shortages like this, and warned that supplies may be exhausted by the middle of June.
They are impossible to get at the moment but there is word they will be coming out in dribs and drabs
Joe Quinn of the Bon Bon beach shop in Salthill was tipped off about the shortages last week and managed to secure a supply ahead of his shop's reopening today after months of lockdown. "I was lucky to get some in because they can't be got now," he said.
Paddy O’Donnell’s Clarmac business supplies Flakes to ice-cream vendors across the country, but he said his supplies were dwindling.
“They are impossible to get at the moment but there is word they will be coming out in dribs and drabs. It is the first time I heard of a shortage like this.”
He said half of his supply was gone already. “I have sold more Flakes so far this year than I had right up to the middle of last summer,” he said. “Hopefully things will be back to normal soon but I am lucky at leave to have some stock left.”
Cadbury, which makes the crumbly chocolate bars that have been sitting on top of soft scoop ice-cream cones for almost 100 years, confirmed the shortages but moved to assure the public that it was working hard to boost supplies to satisfy summer demand.
"We are seeing a recent increase in demand for our Cadbury 99 Flake in Ireland, " said a spokeswoman for Mondalez , the multinational that now owns Cadbury. "The product is still available to order and we're continuing to work closely with our customers."
For generations Cadbury made its 99 Flakes in Dublin, but in recent years the bulk of its production has moved to Egypt. The 99 is so-called in honour of the elite guard made up of 99 soldiers who traditionally protected Italian monarchs. The chocolate maker borrowed the number name to appeal to expat Italians who dominated the ice-cream business in Ireland and Britain at the time.