You may think that for such amazing, coveted, delicious treats, there would be a clear history for both when ice cream and the cone were gifted to this world. Sadly, that is not the case. Myths abound for both sweet treats.
Ice cream origin myths include Marco Polo, Catherine de Medici & King Henry II, Nero, King Solomon and Alexander the Great. Not too shabby, right? Though, according to Tori Avey of The History Kitchen, in an article she wrote for PBS, "The emperors of the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 AD) are believed to have been the first to eat “a frozen milk-like confection.” It was made with milk, flour and camphor.
Though for a while, sherbet - or sharabat as it was known in Arabic - was the main frozen dessert of choice in medieval times and it was an icy drink flavored with real fruit like quinces, pomegranates and cherries. This version of ice dessert caught on through Europe and it wasn't until the 17th century, in Italy, where sugar was added to create sorbetto, better known today as sorbet. Again according to Avey, Antonio Latini (1642–1692) is credited with being the first person to write down a recipe for sorbetto as well as developing a milk-based sorbet, AKA the first “official” ice cream as we know it today.
Ice cream got its big break in Paris, though, in the 1680s when Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli opened his café, Il Procope which introduced the French to gelato, the Italian version of sorbet. Needless to say it was a hit! From there, ice cream gained traction and fans the world over, including in North America as it traversed the Atlantic in the 1700s. The first ice cream shop opened in New York in the 1790s. And the rest, as they say, is history!
History of the cone is also wrapped in lore! According to Time Magazine, all stories lead to men of Middle Eastern descent claiming the creation of the cone. Though the International Association of Ice Cream Manufacturers named Ernest Hamwi, a Syrian immigrant, the official creator of the ice cream cone. Legend has it that he had a booth at the 1904 World Fair selling zalabia - a Middle Eastern wafer-like dessert - right next to a booth selling ice cream. The ice cream booth could not keep up with the customer demand due to having to wash their serving bowls. So, Hamwi rolled up one of his zalabia and offered it as a cone (originally called Cornucopias). The idea was such a success at the fair that Hamwi went on to create the Missouri Cone Company in 1910. By the 1920s, cone production was booming with 245 million cones in the making! Today machines can make 150,000 cones in 24 hours!
MAKE SOME ICE CREAM!
The awesome PBS article mentioned above also includes some delicious recipes! If those are too complicated, try making banana ice cream. All you need to do is mash up some bananas and blend them until creamy. Then freeze. It's sorbet in record time!
MAKE SOME ZALABIA!
Let's go back to the roots of the ice cream cone! Try making zalabia! This website has a great description of what zalabia is and the different forms it can take, but the recipe is a little complicated. This site has a simpler recipe to try. Both will be delicious!
OBSERVE THE REAL THING BEING MADE!
Throughout the United States there are ice cream shops and companies that give tours and showcase how they make their scrumptious sweet treats. Here are the top ten ice cream tours from Frommers - if you live near one, happy touring and exploring!
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