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History and Story Behind Inventions: Ice Cream Cone

About the story behind the invention of the ice cream cone, history and biography of inventor Charles E. Menches.

INVENTION: Ice Cream Cone

INVENTOR: Charles E. Menches, U.S., and an anonymous lady friend; Abe Doumar, U.S.

YEAR: 1904

HOW INVENTED: Menches was an ice cream salesman at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, the great fair in St. Louis, Mo. Whenever Menches visited a certain lady friend, he brought a bouquet of flowers. On one occasion, for a super date, he brought flowers and an ice cream sandwich. Because his lady friend lacked a vase for the flowers, she took one of the sandwich layers and curled it into the form of a vase. Then she rolled the other layer to contain the ice cream itself--and the ice cream cone was born.

The other claimant for the invention was Abe Doumar, of Jersey City, N.J., who also said he had created the ice cream cone at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. Doumar was selling souvenirs at the fair, when he overheard a vendor complain that he had run out of ice cream dishes halfway through the day. Doumar told the vendor, "Instead of selling a dish of ice cream for 5 cent, why don't you make a cornucopia out of a waffle, fill it with ice cream, and sell it for 10 cent" The vendor tried it, and customers clamored for the new cones. Two years later, Doumar set up a stand on Little Coney Island, producing cones from a homemade version of a waffle iron. A year later, Doumar moved to Norfolk, Va., opened Doumar's Ice Cream Parlor, managed it until his death in 1947. Today, his sons dispense cones from the same old stand.

Not until 1924 was a machine invented to mass-produce ice cream cones. In that year, Carl R. Taylor, of Cleveland, O., patented the 1st "machine for spinning or turning a waffle" into a cone.

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