Food Origins: The Ice Cream Cone

The Legal Claim to the Cone

While it seems that many vendors at the 1904 World's Fair were selling ice cream in waffle cones, the idea actually may have been introduced sometime before that event. Another famous claim comes from Italo Marchiony, a New York City ice cream vendor who is said to have been selling ice cream in waffle dishes since 1896. In 1903, Marchiony received a patent for "molding apparatuses as are used in the manufacture of ice cream cups" [source: U.S. Patent & Trademark Office].

But even if Marchiony was selling cones since 1896, he was beaten to the punch in patenting a molding device by a full year. In 1902, Antonio Valvona patented his own "apparatus for baking biscuit-cups for ice-cream" [source: U.S. Patent & Trademark Office].

Shortly after the 1904 World's Fair, several ice cream cone companies emerged and began mass-producing the product. Ernest Hamwi went on to open the Cornucopia Waffle Company and, later, the Missouri Cone Company. Several other cone companies started up as well, including the St. Louis Ice Cream Cone Company, whose president was Nick Kabbaz.

Sometime between 1910 and 1916, the cake cone emerged as an alternative to the rolled waffle. The cake cone was made by pouring batter into a cone-shaped mold, much in the style of Valvona and Marchiony.

Today, ice cream cones come in all shapes, sizes, flavors and even colors. And while the truth about who first placed a scoop of ice cream atop a rolled waffle is still uncertain, we can thank the St. Louis World's Fair for spreading the news and making this inventive idea the staple of summer sweets we enjoy today.

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