The History and Inventors of the Ice Cream Cone

kids eating ice cream
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Before the ice cream cone, the dessert was served glasses called "penny licks." That all changed at the turn of the 20th century when vendors began serving them in edible containers. 

In 1896, Italo Marchiony started to serve his ice cream in an edible cup to people on the streets of New York. In 1903, he submitted a patent for a mold to make an edible cups with handles. Around the same time, another vendor in England named Antonio Valvona obtained a U.S. Patent for a machine that made edible biscuit cups. 

Ernest Hamwi and the First Ice Cream Cone in 1904

But it was Ernest Hamwi, however, who was ultimately credited with creating the first true conical-shaped edible ice cream cone during the 1904 Saint Louis World's Fair. The story was that he had a booth and sold waffles next to an ice cream vendor named Arnold Fornachou who had run out of dishes. So to help out he rolled a waffle to hold the cone.

To market his creation, Hamwi would later open the Cornucopia Waffle Company and introduce the Cornucopias as a new way of enjoying ice cream. In 1910, Hamwi took it a step further and founded the Missouri Cone Company and called his container, the ice cream cone. He was issued a patent for an ice cream cone machine in 1920. 

The widely-accepted account of who had the idea first isn't without controversy though. There were actually over 50 ice cream and waffle vendors at the event, many of whom immediately caught on to the idea and even claimed to take credit for the wildly popular creation.

This includes a Turkish entrepreneur and two brothers from Ohio. To this day, nobody knows for certain who made the first ice cream cone. Besides Hamwi, here are a few other notable folks who lay claim to being the first person to pair ice cream with an edible cone container. 

Abe Doumar

Lebanese immigrant Abe Doumar was said to have come up with the first ice cream cone at the World's Fair in 1904. He did build one of the first machines in the United States for making ice cream cones. The waffle-type cones were made by adapting a waffle iron into a cone oven. 

Charles Menches

According to some accounts, Charles Menches of St. Louis, Missouri came up with the first ice cream cone when he started filling pastry cones with two scoops of ice cream. He was also at the World's Fair in 1904. 

By 1924, Americans were consuming upwards of 245 million cones per year as the pairing of ice cream and pastry exploded in popularity. Today the world's largest ice cream cone company, the Joy Cone Company of Hermitage, Pennsylvania produces more than 1.5 billion cones per year.