Islanders, worried about the great Cadbury ’99 shortage, can breath a sigh of relief – for the moment anyway. Gary Hall of Plaza Ices has ‘luckily’ just taken delivery of a full pallet of the sweet treat traditionally used to top soft ice-cream cones.
It is indeed lucky, as during lockdown Gary and his wife Debbie became the proud owners of a brand new ice-cream van for his new permanent pitch on Gurnard Esplanade, and it’s proving extremely popular. The van’s livery features the iconic green beach huts overlooking Gurnard beach and, in a remarkable coincidence, it was painted by a relative of the IW Observer’s very own sales executive, Emma Harper. Her uncle, Dennis Reed works for a specialist paint-spraying company up in Crewe in Cheshire and when he saw the paperwork for the job, he realised the smart new van was destined to bring smiles to children’s faces on the Island where his niece lives.
As well as selling ice-creams, the van has its own electricity supply, so they are also serving hot drinks and waffles, which are selling like, well, hot cakes! He also does delicious sundaes, the most popular are Biscoff based, although lemon meringue flavour topped a poll of IW Observer staff. Now that lockdown restrictions are easing, he’s also booking up a number of birthday and wedding celebrations which he always enjoys doing.
Nobody knows how long the ’99 shortage is set to last or even what caused it. Was it Brexit, Covid or some other world issue? In fact it’s more likely to be a straightforward supply and demand issue as a spokeswoman for Mondelēz, which owns Cadbury, said: “We are seeing a recent increase in demand for our Cadbury ’99 Flake in the UK and Ireland that we had not expected.”
Cadbury’s website says the reason how the half-sized flake bar originally got its name has been ‘lost in the mists of time’, but speculates on one possible explanation, saying: “In the days of the monarchy in Italy the King had a specially chosen guard consisting of 99 men, and subsequently anything really special or first class was known as ‘99’.”
Ever-resourceful Gary is now making plans in case the shortage lasts longer than his pallet of ’99 flakes. “What do you think about a Twix or Kit Kat ice-cream?” he muses.