Who among us has not delighted in a delicious ice cream (or gelato) served in an ice cream cone? Have you ever wondered about the origin of the edible cone?
In conducting the research, no less than three countries claim that the first ice cream cone was invented in their nation. France and Germany both claim that a waffle-like pastry was formed into a cone and served with sweet cream as a dessert. In all deference to the folks in those countries, sweet cream is not ice cream. Sweet cream as a filling is used in all types of pastries. If they want to go down that road, then the ice cream cone was invented in Sicily about 1,000 years ago and is called the cannoli. No, that is not what we are talking about. We are talking about an ice cream cone and it was invented in 1896 by 28-year-old Italian immigrant Italo Marcioni, who is called Marchiony on his patent (an Ellis Island mistake).
Like many of his countrymen, Marchiony began selling ices from a pushcart in the financial district of New York. To present a customer with an individual serving, the men used small glass dishes which were to be given back to the vendor. But many of the Wall Street traders wandered off with their cups or they fell and broke in transit. Some vendors served the ice cream a paper cup which became known as a ‘toot,’ short for tutti fruitti, which was also used to describe lemon ice. Glass dishes were a bigger headache for the street vendors, so paper became the preferable container. Marchiony was convinced he could do better than paper or glass dishes. He wanted to create an edible container. He spent nights in the family kitchen designing and experimenting with waffle-making. His first invention was a baked cup with little handles that was made like a waffle. The waffle iron he created made ten waffle cups at a time. He filed for a patent in 1902 and the application described his invention as a molding apparatus for forming ice-cream cups and the like. U.S. Patent No. 746,971 was issued to him on December 15, 1903.
In 1904, at the St. Louis Exposition, ice cream cones became a sensation. Italo was there selling his ice cream in edible cups but was having difficulty keeping up with demand. Next to his stand was 21 year-old Ernest Hamwi, who was selling a Syrian cookie called a zalabis, which is similar to a pizzelle. Seeing an opportunity, Italo suggested that the two businesses would see more sales if Earnest rolled his zalabis into a cone shape while hot and the waffle cone that we know today was born.
After the exposition, both men went their separate ways. Marchiony returned to Hoboken, New Jersey and shifted his ice cream cone production to the innovative waffle type. He also built up a fleet of street vendors who sold his ice cream cones. At one point, he had 45 street vendors out selling ice cream cones on the streets of Manhattan. He later relocated his ice cream cone manufacturing to a factory in Brooklyn and marketed them under the brand name ‘Crispo.’
Marchiony later went on to create ice cream sandwiches. He made small cookies and sold them with ice cream inside. The Wall Street brokers were said to find ice cream sandwiches more dignified to eat than ice cream cones.
Italo retired at the age of 70, a wealthy man. He enjoyed his retirement years and passed away in 1954 at the ripe old age of 86. His ice cream brand was ultimately acquired by Schrafft’s.
Meanwhile, Hamwi went to work as a supervisor for the Cornucopia Waffle Company and in 1910, he set up his own company, the Missouri Cone Company, which became very successful. So the origin of the ice cream cone began on the streets of New York City, became a hit at the 1904 St. Louis Exposition and ultimately made two young men very successful and wealthy as their business interests converged at just the right moment in time.