Ice cream is one of the most popular desserts in the world, but have you ever wondered how it came to be served in a cone? The answer lies in the history of the penny lick, a small glass that was used to sell ice cream in the streets of London and other places in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
The penny lick was a simple and cheap way to enjoy ice cream. For one penny, customers could buy a glass filled with a scoop of ice cream. They would lick the glass clean and return it to the vendor, who would reuse it for the next customer. The glass had a thick base and a shallow depression on top, which made it look like it contained more ice cream than it actually did. This was a clever trick to attract customers, but also a source of disappointment.
However, the penny lick had a dark side. It was a breeding ground for germs and diseases. The glasses were rarely washed between customers, and sometimes dipped in dirty water. This meant that people who ate from the same glass could easily catch infections like cholera and tuberculosis, which were rampant in the crowded and unsanitary conditions of London at the time. In fact, researchers later found that penny licks were responsible for spreading these deadly diseases among the population.
As a result, the penny lick was banned in London in 1898, and in other places soon after. This posed a challenge for ice cream vendors, who had to find a new way to sell their product. Some of them tried to use paper wrappers, but they were not very appealing or practical. Others experimented with edible containers, such as pastry cups or wafers.
One of the pioneers of this innovation was Italo Marchiony, an Italian immigrant who sold ice cream from a pushcart in New York City. He invented a machine that could make 50 ice cream cups at a time, using a batter similar to waffles. He patented his invention in 1903, and claimed to be the first to create the ice cream cone. However, he was not the only one.
Another Italian immigrant, Antonio Valvona, also invented a mold for making ice cream cups in England. He registered his patent in 1902, a year before Marchiony. He also collaborated with another Italian, Italo Marcioni, to produce ice cream sandwiches made of two thin wafers. These treats were very popular in Britain, and were exported to other countries as well.
The ice cream cone became even more famous after the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri. There, several vendors claimed to have invented or popularized the cone, such as Ernest Hamwi, Abe Doumar, and David Avayou. The stories vary, but they all involve a serendipitous encounter between a waffle maker and an ice cream seller, who decided to join forces and create a new sensation. The ice cream cone was a hit, and soon became the standard way to serve ice cream around the world.
In conclusion, the penny lick was a significant part of ice cream history. It was a cheap and convenient way to enjoy ice cream, but also a deceptive and dangerous one. It paved the way for the invention of the ice cream cone, which was a safer, tastier, and more fun way to eat ice cream. The ice cream cone is still a favorite dessert today, and a testament to the creativity and ingenuity of ice cream lovers.