Why the ‘99’?

We recently brightened up the studio with these vintage ad signs from the always fantastic ‘Snoopers Paradise’, round the corner in Brighton. We thought appropriate both for the design heritage and the seaside subject. But why it was called a ‘99’.


And it’s not because they used to cost 99p as these pre-decimal examples show.

Nor that they are 99mm long.

It turns out there is no finite answer, but here are the main contenders:

  • Cadbury’s used the name 99 Flake from 1930. They suggest the history may point to the days of Italian Monarchy, when the King was protected by 99 elite guards. Over time, 99 would become known as a term to describe anything special.
  • A Scottish ice cream shop owner in the 1920s used to stick a choloate flake in his ice creams. His shop was at 99 Portobello High Street, Edinburgh.
  • Named after an Italian Regiment whose hat had a long dark feather. The final wave of First World War conscripts were referrd to as ‘the Boys of 99’ after their year of birth.
  • Or even because in Roman numerals IC = 99 (Incorrect, true representation should be XCIX)