It’s hard to imagine a world without takeaway containers, popsicle sticks or ice cream cones because we tend to eat on the run. In fact, the development of ice cream cones took centuries! Iced cream puddings became popular in the late 1700s and wafers of fine flaky biscuit were eaten with or after the pudding as a digestive aid at the end of the meal. Although wafer cornucopias were used to decorate iced pudding dishes, the pudding was not inserted in them.
Iced puddings were popular also in the 1800s but containers were rarely mentioned in cookbooks. Mrs. A.B. Marshall’s Cookery Book, 1888, had a recipe for almond-encrusted cornets filled with cream or “water-ice or set custard of fruits, and served for a dinner, luncheon, or summer dish.” Chef Ranhofer’s book, The Epicurean: A Complete Treatise of Analytical and Practical Studies on the Culinary Art, 1894, had a recipe for “Rolled-Waffle Cornets” and recommended putting flavoured whipped cream in the cornets.
In the streets, Italian immigrants in London may have sold ice cream in cones, but there is no evidence of this practice. Biscuit cup companies became popular at the turn of the 20th century. Antonio Valvona registered the first patent in 1902 in Manchester, England for an “Apparatus for Baking Biscuit Cups for Ice Cream.” We took another step toward the cone.
The ice cream cone was introduced by accident at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. The International Association of Ice Cream Manufacturers (IAICM) credits Ernest Hamwi with the invention. Pastry-maker Hamwi was selling “zalabia,” a traditional Levantine flat waffle-like pastry sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar. His stall happened to be next to an ice cream stand run by 16-year-old Arnold Fomachou. Fomachou ran out of ice cream dishes mid-way through the fair so Hamwi twisted his zalabias into cones and scooped Fomachou’s ice cream into them to serve to the public. They became an instant success. J. P. Heckle approached Hamwi after the fair to buy his waffle machine and ask him to partner in the first ice cream cone company, the Cornucopia Waffle Company. In 1910, Hamwi opened his own company, the Missouri Cone Company. The first US patent was issued in 1924 for a “machine for forming thin, freshly baked wafers while still hot into cone-shaped containers.” We reap the benefits.
MINT AND CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM
¼ cup sugar
½ cup water
3 large egg yolks
1¼ cups light cream
1¼ cups heavy cream
6 tablespoons crème de menthe
4 squares of dark chocolate, chopped
In a heavy saucepan, dissolve sugar in ½ cup of water. Bring to the boil and boil until 215ºF (102C).
Beat the yolks in a bowl. Slowly pour in the syrup, beating until the mixture becomes thick and light.
In another bowl, whip the creams together until soft peaks form. Fold the cream into the yolks with the crème de menthe and chocolate. Pour the mixture into a container, cover and freeze till firm. Before serving, transfer ice cream to the fridge for 30 minutes.