July is National Ice Cream month. For many people, ice cream is not the same unless it’s on a cone.

Most believe the ice cream cone was came about by accident at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, but French cook books were publishing recipes for edible cones as early as 1825. And Italo Marchiony, an Italian immigrant, was granted U.S. Patent No. 746,971 in 1903 for inventing a mold to make pastry cups for ice cream.

The World’s Fair story has some merit, but comes with plenty of disputes. Legend has it that Ernest A Hamwi was selling zalabia — a waffle-like pastry popular in Hamwi’s native Syria — next to an ice cream vendor who ran out of ice cream dishes. In a moment of inspiration Hamwi supposedly rolled a zalabia into a cone and offered it as a substitute for dishes. However, reports from the fair indicate that as many as 20 different vendors lay claim to the waffle cone invention.

While we may never know who was the “first” to invent the ice cream cone, it can be said that the 1904 World’s Fair brought the cone wide-spread attention in America. By the late 1920s, Americans were consuming 250 million cones annually.

Did you know?

  • Records kept by a Chatham Street, New York, merchant show that President George Washington spent approximately $200 (about $10,000 in 2010 dollars) for ice cream during the summer of 1790.
  • In 1984, President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of the month as National Ice Cream Day.
  • The U.S. ice cream industry generates more than $21 billion in annual sales.
  • About 9 percent of all the milk produced by U.S. dairy farmers is used to produce ice cream.
  • According to the NPD Group’s National Eating Trends Services, the top five individual flavors in the United States are: vanilla (28.7%), chocolate (10.4%), cookie n’ cream (4.4%), strawberry (3.9%) and chocolate chip mint (3.3%).
  • According to the USDA, the U.S. leads the world in annual production of ice cream and related frozen desserts at about 1.5 billion gallons in 2008.