Who invented the ice cream cone? (2022)

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who invented the ice cream cone?

The first Ice Cream Cones was produced in 1896 by Italo Marchiony. Marchiony, who emigrated from Italy in the late 1800s, invented his ice cream cone in New York City. He was granted a patent in December 1903.

Although Marchiony is credited with the invention of the cone, a similar creation was independently introduced at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair by Ernest A. Hamwi, a Syrian concessionaire. Hamwi was selling a crisp, waffle-like pastry — zalabis — in a booth right next to an ice cream vendor. Because of ice cream’s popularity, the vendor ran out of dishes.

Hamwi saw an easy solution to the ice cream vendor’s problem: he quickly rolled one of his wafer-like waffles in the shape of a cone, or cornucopia, and gave it to the ice cream vendor. The cone cooled in a few seconds, the vendor put some ice cream in it, the customers were happy and the cone was on its way to becoming the great American institution that it is today.

Who invented the ice cream cone? (1)

when did people start putting ice cream into edible cones?

Many historians have pointed to the recipes of British author Agnes B. Marshall as precursors. Mrs. A.B. Marshall’s Cookery Book (1887) includes instructions for making “Cornets with Cream,” cone-shaped vessels made of a sweet paste of blanched almonds and flour, rolled around cornet molds, baked, and filled with sweetened vanilla-flavored whipped cream. “These cornets can also be filled with any [ice] cream or water ice,” Marshall notes—the latter referring to frozen-water concoctions like granitas—”and served for a dinner, luncheon, or supper dish.”

It’s possible that future innovators were inspired by fancy confectionery like Mrs. Marshall’s,

but it seems more likely that the ice cream cone evolved out of efforts to help street vendors avoid the breakage and sanitation concerns that came with using dishes and spoons.

One of the earliest alternatives to the penny lick was “hokey-pokey,”

devised by immigrant street vendors in London in the 1870s. A British journal described hokey-pokey as “a coarse kind of Neapolitan ice” made with a blend of one part water to two parts milk,

sweetened and thickened with sugar and cornstarch. The mixture was frozen, pressed into rectangular molds, then cut into slices and wrapped in white paper, to be sold from vendors’ carts.

Within a few years, Italian immigrants had brought “hokey-pokey” to northeastern cities in the US, and it spread from there. In 1885, the Cincinnati Enquirer chronicled the appearance of this “novel luxury.” “Just the thing for picnics,” the reporter declared. “No spoons nor saucers needed, no washing of dishes.” The emphasis here lends credence to the idea that the hokey-pokey’s paper wrapper represented growing interest in single-use vessels and the resulting ease of cleanup.

Who invented the ice cream cone? (2)

ice cream cone

In both England and the US, Italian immigrants dominated the urban ice cream trade, and innovations within it. By the 1890s, vendors had 86’ed the hokey-pokey’s paper wrapper and created, as one observer quoted in a later newspaper article remembered it, “a half-inch slab of ice cream placed between two square pieces of sweetened wafer”—an early ice cream sandwich. Others experimented with various molds and devices to transform those wafers into edible cups.

In 1901, Antonio Valvona, an Italian citizen living in Manchester, England, filed a patent for an “Apparatus for Baking Biscuit Cups for Ice Cream.” The device was designed for baking “dough or paste…composed of the same materials as are employed in the manufacture of biscuits [that is, cookies], and when baked the said cups or dishes may be filled with ice-cream, which can then be sold by the venders of ice-cream in public thoroughfares or other places.”

The following year, Valvona teamed up with Frank Marchiony, an Italian immigrant in New York, to found the Valvona-Marchiony Company, which produced the patented cups and the ice cream sold in them. Valvona operated the firm’s factory in the UK, while Marchiony ran the American operations, first on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and then in Brooklyn as trade grew.

By 1904, Marchiony had advanced from pushing a solo street cart to operating “two big wafer and ice cream factories” and a fleet of 200 carts, according to a newspaper profile at the time.

ice cream cone

But Marchiony’s carts had plenty of competition on the streets of Manhattan, including from those of his cousin, Italo Marchiony, who had worked for the Valvona-Marchiony Company briefly, but by 1903 had established a rival ice cream firm. In September of that year, Italo Marchiony filed a patent for his own “molding apparatus used in the manufacture of ice cream cups and the like.”

Italo’s innovation, he claimed, was that his design made it possible to mold biscuit paste “in particular and unusual shapes” that were not possible before due to “the delicacy of the substance molded and the difficulty of forming and extracting the same from the molds.” Unlike Valvona’s two-part mold, which had a hinged top and bottom that closed like a clamshell, Italo Marchiony’s device was composed of three pieces: a hinged top that could be raised vertically, plus a bottom consisting of two blocks that were hinged horizontally.

“Upon the separation of the blocks,” his patent application explained,

“the withdrawal of the substance which has been formed in the mold is now readily permitted, notwithstanding the delicacy or crispness of the substances molded.” The illustrations from Italo’s patent application show precisely the kind of unusual shapes he was trying to mold: tiny flat-bottomed teacups made of biscuit dough,

complete with delicate handles.

And that’s where things stood on the eve of the St. Louis World’s Fair. People were eating ice cream from edible containers, but nothing that anyone today would consider an ice cream cone.

Who invented the ice cream cone? (3)

Louisiana Purchase Exposition

So fast forward to St. Louis in 1904. How did the legend grow that the ice cream cone began with a vendor at the Exposition?

Here we turn again to Jane Marchiony Paretti who has the answer:

Marchiony was in St. Louis as an exhibitor!

The legend, as it has been told, has been spun so that it became a story of a waffle vendor (Ernest Hamwi) who came to the rescue of an ice cream vendor who ran out of glass cups.

The true story is that Marchiony was there selling his ice cream. He could easily make up fresh batches of ice cream each night, but he couldn’t keep up with demand for the waffle cups. So this is where the truth almost connects with the legend. Instead of Hamwi having the idea for using his waffles, Marchiony turned to Hamwi,

who was selling zalabis (a Syrian cookie that is like a thin waffle) and asked that Hamwi roll some of the waffles while warm so that Marchiony could use them as cones.

So there we have it:

The first ice cream cones were actually sold from a pushcart on Wall Street, however, these sweet treats gained wide exposure through the St. Louis Exposition.

Other vendors at the fair began copying Marchiony, and people who enjoyed ice cream cones in St. Louis returned to their own communities with suggestions to their local ice cream stores as to a new way to sell ice cream.

Who invented the ice cream cone? (4)

3Different Types of Ice Cream Cones

Ice Cream Cones Today

More imitators would follow, but two distinct ice cream cones would emerge as the standards for years to come. They were the common batter cone, which fills a mold to create a uniform shape,

and the waffle cone, now using machinery to roll the waffle into the perfect cone shape by the thousands. Ice cream shops all over Washington, D.C., Maryland,

and Virginia now scoop their ice cream into these cones each and every day.

Whether you’re having a vanilla and chocolate twist or two scoops of Rocky Road,

the ice cream cone makes all the difference.As a result Ice cream is found between two cookies, on top of a brownie, and even between doughnuts,

but the one true way to enjoy everyone’s favorite dessert started with a waffle and resulted in the ice cream cone.

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