BRITAIN'S 99 ice cream is under threat from a growing row over Cadbury's Flakes.
Millions are set to be sold over the Bank Holiday weekend as temperatures soar.
But vendors say the quality of the chocolate has plummeted since production was moved to Egypt.
Some are now turning to German-owned alternatives.
John Taylor, who owns C&M Creamery Ices in Harrogate, North Yorks., said he was paying "top money" for a box of shards.
He fumed: "You can't give someone a 99 with a broken Flake. It's embarrassing for an ice cream man.
"They're crumbly by nature but they should be able to stand up to a bit of moving around.
"They're charging top money for them, but they arrive as though they have been bounced off a cliff.
"If you're buying five boxes of Flake for an event and you discover a lot of them are broken, your day is ruined."
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Lawrence Glauser, owner of Lorenzo's Ices in Hull, East Yorks., described it as a "big issue".
He said: "Often at least a quarter of a box is unusable.
"I now serve trays of ice cream and sprinkle bits of Flake on top.
"I shouldn't have to do that. I'm fed up of the wastage."
Mr Glauser said he preferred Cadbury but had previously turned to a German alternative marketed as "milk chocolate flaked sticks".
He added: "Customers don't seem to mind, the German ones are a lot denser and don't seem to fall apart as easily."
Husband and wife team Martin North and Abby Beech, of Hessle, East Yorks., said it was affecting their business, Abbyo's.
They said: "You physically can't get the Flakes into the ice cream.
"As soon as you pick them up they fall apart. It's not good when you're paying £16 a box."
Wholesale boxes typically contain 144 Flake 99s.
They were first developed by chance in 1920 after a Cadbury's employee noticed thin streams of excess chocolate falling from moulds.
By 1930, Cadbury's was selling half-length Flakes specifically for 99 ice creams.
The company says the process for making it is a closely guarded secret and no other chocolate manufacturer has ever managed to recreate it.
But Katy Alston, who operates a van in Bognor Regis and is also president of The Ice Cream Alliance, said: "We've thrown away 70 in a single box before because they've all been broken.
"For the first time, I won't be using Cadbury Flake this year. It feels like a different product.
"If you order a 99, you want a good solid Flake in it."
A spokesperson for Cadbury's parent company, Mondelēz International, said it took issues with quality "very seriously".
They added: "Cadbury Flake 99 is a naturally delicate and crumbly product, and we have processes in place within our supply chain to avoid any breakage as much as possible.
"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.
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"We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused."
The company said it has been making Flake 99 in Egypt since 2020 and insisted the recipe had not changed.
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