The Foodie

ice cream, ice cream cone

Ice Cream: The Day the Ice Cream Cone Was Invented

June 28, 2010
by Isabel Cowles
July 23 marks the official birthday of the ice cream cone, and what better time to celebrate this coolest of desserts? In honor of the occasion, snack on some fascinating frozen facts. What causes the ice cream headache? What legends surround the banana split? Learn about ice cream in the news, or find recipes to make your own treats, from gelato to granitas.

HIstory of Ice Cream and Its Cone

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The true origins of the ice cream cone are highly contested. According to The Library of Congress, many an inventor sought to fashion an edible vessel to transport ice cream, though the creation of the cone is often credited to Charles E. Menches and dated to July 23, 1904. The Library of Congress Web sites has lots of 19th-century photos of people eating ice cream as well as other background information on the enjoyment of ice cream—dating as far back as the reign of the Roman Emperor Nero.

The cone was just one invention that made ice cream history. Once people recognized the vast potential for innovation in frozen treats, seemingly impossible feats were achieved. One enduring temperature-defying dessert is Baked Alaska, a loaf of ice cream encased in a hot shell. What’s Cooking America provides recipes from 19th-century cookbooks and firsthand accounts of Thomas Jefferson’s ice cream obsession.

The banana split has folks divided over who invented it. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the town of Latrobe, Ohio, has an ongoing rivalry with Wilmington, Ohio, over which is the true birthplace of the dessert.

How to Eat Ice Cream and Avoid Brain Freeze

Whether you favor a cone or a cup, ice cream served soft or hard as a rock, there is a science to proper tasting, according to Jon Snyder, creator of Ciao Bella ice cream and gelato. Snyder offers some tips on CHOW: you can determine the quality of an ice cream brand by tasting its vanilla; pay heed to ice cream’s consistency and—even though it’s frozen—ice cream is best eaten fresh.

What’s behind that pesky “brain freeze”? KidsHealth explains exactly what’s going on in your mouth when an ice cream-related headache occurs and how to keep brain freeze at bay.

Making Your Own Ice Cream

As fun as it is to go out for a cone, ice cream is easily made at home. If you’re not in the mood for milk, make a sorbet, granita or ice. The BBC demystifies the ice cream machine and provides recipes for a variety of ice cream flavors as well as directions for making vegan “ice cream,” kulfi, frozen yogurt and other chilly treats.

The Italians have their own delectable frozen dessert. Gelato is made with less butterfat than ice cream, served at a slightly warmer temperature and not whipped with air before serving. To make your own gelato, try this recipe from Epicurious. You can supplement the custard flavor with the infusion of your choice.

Ice Cream in the News

The exhausted or deeply lazy will welcome the rotating ice cream cup, which saves you from the trouble of having to lick your ice cream. According to The Telegraph, you just place a scoop or two of ice cream into the device, stick out your tongue and enjoy.

Last year Elton John teamed up with Ben and Jerry’s to make his own flavor of ice cream. The flavor, Goodbye Yellow Brickle Road, contained, “an outrageous symphony of decadent chocolate ice-cream, peanut butter cookie dough, butter brickle and white chocolate chunks,” The Guardian reported. Profits from the ice cream went to John’s AIDS foundation.

Häagen-Daz warns that the disappearance of honeybees could seriously damage the ice cream industry. “The cows whose milk makes ice cream eat alfalfa that depends on bees. Forty percent of Häagen-Dazs’s flavors contain other ingredients, from almonds to strawberries, that rely completely on honeybee pollination,” Discover magazine explains. The ice cream company has introduced two honey-based flavors to garner proceeds for bee research.
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