A Perfect Partnership

20 Oct
If only I had an ice cream cone that large...  (picture is way old, and was taken in Toledo, Spain)

If only I had a real cone that big
(picture taken in Toledo, Spain)

When was the last time you ate an ice cream cone? Hopefully for you, the answer is “today.” Now, when was the last time you thought about how ice cream cones came to be? Chances are, not that recently. According to food historians, the first printed reference to ice cream cones dates back to a 19th-century cookbook. But while creation theories abound, there’s no real consensus on how the cone was invented. Some say its origins are in England, some say France, some say the U.S. Still, it seems that historians do agree on one thing: the cone owes a lot of its popularity to its exposure at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis.

In our modern world, we hear about new mouthwatering desserts practically every day (I’m looking at you, Dominique Ansel). But in 1904, news didn’t spread as quickly or as widely. And so events like World’s Fairs played a rather important part in spreading the word about inventions and ideas. Fairs drew large crowds of people from all over the world, as well as flocks of journalists. They were the perfect place to introduce the world to something new.

So, let’s get back to the cone “creation myth,” shall we? One of the most popular stories says that a World’s Fair ice cream vendor ran out of dishes for his ice cream. In a bout of quick thinking, the pastry vendor at the next booth over rolled up some of his crisp cookies into a cones and offered them up as ice cream holders. And like that, the ice cream cone was born.

A not-so-great picture of where the St. Louis World's Fair was held (now known as Forest Park)

A not-so-great picture of Forest Park, site of the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair

For the moment, let’s suspend any opposing theories and just accept this St. Louis story as the truth. Because regardless of whether the vendor truly “invented” the cone, the story teaches us an important lesson: sometimes the best ideas come from sharp, real-time thinking. Today, something like what we see in the cone “creation myth” would be considered a partnership, and before the partners could make it happen, their respective companies would probably make them sign a lot of legal paperwork. But in 1904, it was simply an immediate solution to an immediate problem.

I want the St. Louis story to be true, even if I know that some form of cone existed well before 1904. In all fairness, that pastry vendor at the Fair had likely never heard of ice cream cones, even if they were already in use in other parts of the world- it’s not like he had Buzzfeed sending him lists of “exciting new desserts” on a daily basis. So whether or not he was truly the first to do it, I think we owe him a round of applause for his quick and creative problem-solving. Given that I have a sweet spot for ice cream, St. Louis AND World’s Fairs– I think it’s only fair that I have an ice cream cone to celebrate this fortuitous event, don’t you?

On a related note: the last time I posted a list of favorite ice cream companies, it was really only a partial list- and readers noticed some of their favorites were missing. So here is round 2! Let me know if you have recommendations for other places I need to try.

I consider it my civic duty to try ice cream around the world. This particular taste test occurred in Copenhagen (2009)

I consider it my civic duty to try ice cream around the world. This particular taste test was in Copenhagen

Atlanta

Morelli’s: an Atlanta institution with delicious, creamy flavors

Ohio

Jeni’s: this stuff is expensive, but also inventive and delicious

Graeter’s: get the black raspberry chocolate chip, you’ll thank me later

Southern California

Creamistry : liquid nitrogen-based ice cream, gets extra points for the wow factor

This is technically cake, but isn't it cute? My friends know me so well.

This is technically cake, but isn’t it cute? My friends know me so well.

Northern California 

Xanath: they get a lot of kudos for using organic ingredients, but I’m there for flavors like fig and saffron

Three Twins : (pro tip: they have a kiosk in the Delta terminal at SFO)

Chicago

Bobtail: their flavors include lots of mix-ins

Paciugo: there’s a reason some of the flavors sell out every day

Canada

Laura Secord: they don’t seem to have it anymore, but this is where I had my first ever orange-chocolate ice cream (named “Tiger Tiger,” which is adorable)

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4 Responses to “A Perfect Partnership”

  1. LFFL October 20, 2013 at 8:10 AM #

    I’d love an ice cream cone that big, too.

    Like

  2. psychologistmimi October 31, 2013 at 4:03 PM #

    Yum. Have you ever been to ann arbor? One of the best ice cream places ever!: stucchis. Highly rec it.

    Like

    • Felicia October 31, 2013 at 4:30 PM #

      Ooh I did go to Ann Arbor earlier this year but wasn’t clued in enough apparently. Hopefully I’ll make it back and will make my way over to Stucchi’s!

      Like

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  1. 4 Accidental Food Discoveries | Shelbey Conklin - November 13, 2013

    […] A Perfect Partnership (culturecookies.wordpress.com) […]

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