Sometimes, an accident can be a good thing. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, ice cream prices dropped and the creamy dessert quickly became a more popular treat. Ice cream street vendors popped up across the United States and in Europe. The vendors quickly began competing over more than just flavors, but to what they put the ice cream in. You wouldn’t think it would really matter what you put the ice cream in…as long as you ended up putting it in your mouth eventually, but at that time, the container was somehow of great importance.
Vendors tried to make their ice cream the most interesting, because after all, presentation is everything. Paper, glass, and metal were common materials used for holding ice cream. Then came the not-so-sanitary “penny licks.” Many vendors would scoop their flavor of the day into a glass and hungry buyers would pay a penny to lick the glass clean before returning it to the vendor. Not only was this not the cleanest way to eat dessert, but also customers kept breaking the glass or “accidentally” walking away with them.
The inventor of the actual ice cream cone, called a “cornet,” still remains a mystery. But, everyone agrees that the cone-shaped edible ice cream holder invention, was definitely an accident. In 1902, Antonio Valvona filed the first patent in Britain for an edible ice cream cup. The second came from Italo Marchiony, an Italian immigrant living in New York. However, these patents covered bowls, not cones. So where did the cone-shaped ice cream holder come from? Historians agree on where and when, just not who.
The 1904 World’s Fair in Saint Louis celebrated the centennial of the Louisiana Purchase, although it was one year late. There was an abundance of food, and more than 50 ice cream vendors, as well as over a dozen waffle stands. With the heat, ice cream was the top seller, but not too many people wanted hot waffles. Nevertheless, the waffles proved useful when all the ice cream vendors ran out of cups. The generally accepted story goes likes this: “ice cream vendor Arnold Fornachou couldn’t keep up with demand and ran out of paper dishes. Ernest Hamwi, a vendor next to Mr Fornachou sold zalabia, a waffle-like pastry. Because his zalabia wasn’t selling, Mr Hamwi decided to help his neighbor by rolling up one of his waffle pastries and giving it to Fornachou who put ice cream in it. Viola, the first ice cream cone sold.” The other vendors got in on the idea as well, each claiming that it invented the idea. With all the hustle and bustle of the World’s Fair, no one really knows who invented the cone first. Many patents were filed after the fair for “waffle-rolling” machines, and many people still take the credit for this accidental invention.
When my grandchildren were younger, their moms had to be to work at 8:00am, and I didn’t have to be to work until 9:00am, so I took the kids to school and daycare. They would begin arriving at my house around 7:30am, and when Josh, my youngest grandson, would walk in the front door, the first words out of his mouth were always the same…”Treat, Grandma…treat!!” Josh was a treat-a-holic, he had a one track mind, and he was always hungry. Left alone with a bag of candy, he would devour it all in one sitting. It wasn’t a matter of greed, he just liked treats so much that he couldn’t stop himself very easily.
When Josh would start asking for a treat with his cute little face, it was a hard thing to resist and I think he knew that, because he took full advantage of the hold he had on his grandma’s heart. He probably conned me out of more treats than the other three grandchildren combined. The only good news was that I tried to have some nutritious sweet snacks in the house, so he wasn’t always eating junk. I just don’t know how one kid could eat so many treats.
Josh can be a bottomless pit, but not usually for the normal foods unless he is in a growth spurt, but he is always a bottomless pit when it comes to sweets, like many other people I know, but that is where the similarities end, and I’m sure it is because he is a kid. You would expect that a child who likes candy and treats as much as Josh, would be an overweight child, but as soon as his baby days were over, so was any sign of chubbiness. Josh turned into a slender, athletic young man, who is a good basketball player and runner. He is also doing well in school, and I am very proud of him, but oh, I do remember the days when that little boy could smile his way into my heart and come out with the prize he was looking for…a treat.