The early twentieth century saw a boom in ice cream holding technology and the emergence of the edible waffle cone proved to be a big success in England. This article looks at the emergence of the edible cone and what preceded its invention.
After the Napoleonic wars in the 19thcentury many Italians moved to England and settled in areas like Ancotes, Manchester. They brought with them the recipe for gelatoice cream and served it to customers in paper, referred to as a ‘hokey pokey’ or in a ‘penny lick’. The ‘penny lick’ was a tiny glass ice cream dish, about the size of a shot glass and did not require the use of a spoon. Instead, customers licked all of the ice cream out of the dish and would then return it to the vendor when finished. The vendor would then immediately refill it with ice cream for another customer. While these methods for serving gelato were popular they were neither efficient nor hygienic. Primarily, re-using a dish meant that often the patron was at a disadvantage because customers accidentally broke the glasses, and not so accidentally walked off with them.
Additionally, cleaning was less fastidious than today’s standards and often the ice cream vender could not wash the dishes fast enough to keep up with demand on a hot day. While this meant service was often inept, the biggest problem with the ice cream business during this period was that the corners of the penny dish were often left dirty. The result was frequent instances of diseases such as tuberculosis being passed on by these glasses. Consequently because of the spread of diseases, the penny lick became outlawed in 1899 and this led to the emergence of the edible cone.
To combat the ban, Antonio Valvonafrom Ancotesin 1901 came up with a new idea following his visit to Belgium. Valvona invented the twist cone which was made from flour, water and treacle batter, using a wooden peg to shape the cone. In America, Italo Marchioni picked up on this idea and created an ice cream mould making machine. Then in 1904 the first true edible conical shaped cone for serving ice cream was created at the St. Louis World’s fair by Ernest Hamwi. In the fair, Hamwi’s waffle booth was next to an ice cream vendor who ran short of dishes so Hamwi rolled a waffle to contain ice cream and the cone was born. Word spread quickly through the Fair and many other vendors began selling ice cream in waffle cones. The establishment of the edible waffle cone influenced Valvona’s creation in England and ice-cream in a cone became a regular desert enjoyed by ordinary people.