December 13, 1903, the ice cream cone is born

There is a date that marks the history of ice cream universally more than others. There is a date that more than others has changed the image we give to one of the products that is most capable of arousing emotions, memories, sensations.

That date is December 13, 1903. That is the date on which Italo Marchioni, an Italian living in New York City, applied for and received the US patent for the invention of the cone. One cannot be sure that he invented the cone. The options in this regard are many, often conflicting. But December 13, 1903 remains a certain point in the history of the ice cream cone.

The origins

The cone is one of the possible “containers” for ice cream. It is conical in shape open on one side, often made of wafer or biscuit or other wafers, to be held naturally with the open side up.

The roots go back to Catherine de ‘Medici who apparently introduced her recipes in France. And even in England this tradition seems to have spread since the sixteenth century. One thing is almost certain: at the basis of all these historical traces there is always an Italian.

The figure of Marchioni

On December 13, 1903 Italo Marchioni, born in a small fraction of a municipality in the Belluno area and emigrated to America at the end of the 19th century (like many other confectioners and ice cream makers in the Dolomites), received US patent no. 746971 for the invention of the ice cream cone. In particular for the invention of a machine for the production of cones which “can be particularly convenient for manipulating and shaping the dough into unusual shapes which have never been created up to now, due to the delicacy of the substance and the difficulty of detaching the substance from the moulds”.

In fact, he himself had been selling ice cream cones in America since 1896.

Philadelphia, New York, New Jersey the stages of its history with stars and stripes. Restaurants, bars and a factory of cones and waffles in small Hoboken are his activities.

The transition from glass to cone

They weren’t returned. They fell and inevitably ended up breaking. They were impractical, a little cold if you will. The glass cups in which ice cream was served in New York at the beginning of the twentieth century represented an inconvenience and, also, a small loss of capital.
Nor did the paper cones help. Too much waste to dispose of.
In short, the cone does not yet exist and ice creams are consumed in containers of various shapes and sizes. In Austria and Germany the glass was brought from home, the nobles ate it in porcelain ice cream cups, others often also in soup plates. In short, the need to use something more comfortable and transportable made itself felt. In France metal or paper cones, in Austria still on a square cardboard. But nothing edible. This is why Marchioni invented the cone: a state of necessity, an Italian remedy, our characteristic inventiveness.

Marchioni is currently considered the most accredited inventor of the cone. To certify that patent that others have not obtained. Just as Cadore and Val di Zoldo are considered the homeland of ice cream on a par with Sicily. In reality, the chronicles also tell of disagreements about that patent. Italo Marchioni was opposed in this regard by Frank Marchioni, a cousin of his who owned an ice cream shop in New York, and by Antonio Valvona, who in 1902 had also patented an oven in the USA to produce “biscuit bowls for ice cream”. But these are judicial processes without certainties and they remain so. Which did not affect the fame of Marchioni (Italo).

On his death on July 29, 1954, the New York Times wrote: “In 1896 he prepared the first cone and a few years later, according to his family, he obtained the original patent. The cone patent debate, the subject of much controversy and controversy, has never been fully resolved.” Above all, all this does not change the meaning of history: December 13 is and remains a significant date.

The other hypotheses

According to the versions repeatedly reported by the New York Times, one of the sellers present at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, the Syrian confectioner Ernest Hamwi, introduced a new way of eating ice cream: with a thick paste cooked in a wafer.

There are no written documents that confirm this story and in reality there were several exhibitors at the 1904 St. Louis Fair who credited themselves with the invention of the first cone. Another Syrian, a Turkish immigrant and two brothers from Ohio enter hearsay, almost legend.

Among other things, to deny the St. Louis hypothesis is the already told story of the Marchioni family, Italo and Frank.


One fact is more certain than others: modern ice cream is an Italian invention, with an Arab derivation and a long Chinese tradition, but with a very strong local brand. Italian craftsmen and companies are the best on the market and remain so. Today even the cone has become an art in its own way: in Italy at the beginning of the twentieth century even ice cream did not escape the rules of eating with cutlery, tablecloths and napkins, served in glass glasses or served on a plate and consumed with a teaspoon. The eatable cone arrived in Europe in the early twentieth century and in Italy in the thirties, in particular in Trieste, the city where, precisely in these years, the round scoop-shaped portioners were spreading (again the protagonist is an ice cream maker originally from the Val di Zoldo ).

The cone today

The “Cornetto” is commercially the best known. But the artisan ice cream cone is experiencing new frontiers. The preparation of the wafer at the very moment in which the ice cream is served, the different shapes of the cone itself and the study of fragrance and crunchiness are now well-trodden sides. And roads traveled by high-profile ice cream parlors to offer a superior taste experience.
Making gelato unique through quality and sophistication. The same approach as Fb Showcases: to offer you, as always, the best possible.


Freelance journalist, with a huge passion for carbohydrates, for sport and for all that is writing, texts, contents and communication. As a child I wrote fairy tales, when I grew up I wanted to be a poet or a writer. They told me: “Don’t tell stories.” And instead, that’s exactly what I do: I tell stories.

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