This comes over the transom from Today in History. Legend has it that on this day in 1904, Charles E. Menches filled a pastry cone with two scoops of ice-cream and thus is responsible for the conical icon we celebrate today. The history of ideas, however sweet, is more complicated than that, as the cast of characters who claim to have invented the ice cream cone include a number of other confectioners present at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. Does the waffle cone have even earlier precedents? Read more about the history of the ice cream cone, and peruse related materials in the Library’s collections, including Thomas Jefferson’s recipe for vanilla ice cream, in Today in History. For further reading, consult the nearly 31 flavors of Selected Internet Resources–Ice Cream compiled by the Science, Technology and Business Division.
The sheet music collections in American Memory provide a number of songs with which to remember this momentous occasion. A composer known only as “Professor” wrote lyrics to the tune of “Mother Kissed Me in My Dream, “available online in Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920, and transformed maudlin sentimentality into the gluttonous “Molly Guzzled the Ice Cream,” from America Singing: Nineteenth-Century Song Sheets. While “Professor” anticipated the work of “Weird” Al Yankovic by more than a century, M.H. Thornton created an aural picture of sweet and incredible din with his 1877 number, “I Scream; or, Ice Cream” in Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music, 1870-1885. Treat yourself to two scoops today!
Charles Menches (of happy memory) was my paternal grandfather. He led an adventurous life, with many perhaps apocraphal stories handed down from one generation to another. In Akron, Ohio, where my siblings and I grew up, the local newspaper (then called the Akron Beacon Journal) celebrated this local son and his “invention” of the ice cream cone in articles and cartoons when July came around. I am inordinately proud of my grandfather, who has given so much pleasure to so many children and their parents over the years. As a young girl I was given a skirt to wear that my mother sewed by hand–the material was printed with a pattern of scattered ice cream cones. You can bet that I wore it proudly!
Yes, there are other claimants to this fame, with suspiciously similar tales of how they came to make the first ice cream cone, but I have to accept the fact that my grandfather saw the need and was first to fill it!
Very nice to hear from you Mary Lou!