Here’s The Scoop

I am tired of celebrating the 10th anniversary of this, or the 75th anniversary of that. What makes those numbers so special?  I told Mary Ellen I had big plans for our 53rd anniversary in a few years. “Great,” she said, “but what about our 50th? I’m sure you have even bigger plans for that one.”

“Mary Ellen, 50 is just a number.  Let’s wait and make number 53 special. Don’t give the 50th another thought.” Ever since I said that, Mary Ellen has also not given another thought to making dinner, going grocery shopping or editing my column. I guess it really is the thought that counts.

In keeping with my theory, this month I am celebrating the 121st anniversary of the ice cream cone. I skipped the 100th, because who really cares? But the 121st? Now there’s a cause for celebration.

Like other great inventions in history, there is some controversy about when the first cone was really created. Some say it was the idea of Italo Marchiony; others say Charles Menches; and who could forget Ernest Hamwi? Apparently, they’ve all been forgotten.

Some food writers think the sandwich was invented by the Earl of Sandwich back in the late 1700s when he put meat between bread so he could play cards while he ate. This has never been confirmed, but the name says it all, so I believe it. I went to college with a guy named Herb Cohn. He claimed it was his great-great-uncle who invented the ice cream cone. Cone? Cohn? Sounds logical to me.

The biggest mystery about the ice cream cone is why it ever caught on in the first place. Think about it:  Sugar cones are poorly designed and constructed.  Because of the pointed bottom, you can’t set them down. There is the cake cone that has a flat bottom; it also has no taste. I want to be able to put my cone on the driving console so I can make a left-hand turn while I’m on my cell phone.

Half the time a cone crumbles when you try to balance the second ice cream scoop on top and apply a little pressure. If the ice cream is soft and you pack it down, by the time you’ve taken the tenth lick, it’s leaking out the bottom, all over your new beige corduroy pants.

If you’re a strong licker, the top scoop falls off in a big plop—and there’s no five-second rule for ice cream. When it hits the ground, it’s history. Except for mint chip. I would eat mint chip off the pavement.

Imagine if the simple plastic cup had been created years after the cone. People would have rejoiced at this incredible invention. Advertisements would have heralded this new concept that prevented many ice cream disasters that people were experiencing. It would have been the end of scraping your desserts off the street.

We should be thankful today that we have two alternatives for enjoying America’s favorite frozen treat.  What would it be like if people had to carry around a scoop of ice cream in their bare hand? I shiver to think.

By the way, some food historians claim a guy name Reuben Kulakofsky invented the popular corned beef and kraut sandwich. I’ll tell you more when we all celebrate the very important 108th anniversary of the Reuben next year.

– Dick Wolfsie spent his career sharing his humor, stories and video essays on television, radio and in newspapers. His columns appear weekly in The Paper of Montgomery County. E-mail Dick at Wolfsie@