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July 23, 2020

July 23, 1904: The First Ice Cream Cone Created During the St. Louis World’s Fair, Reputedly by Charles E. Menches

On July 23, 1904, according to some accounts, Charles E. Menches conceived the idea of filling a pastry cone with two scoops of ice cream and thereby invented the ice cream cone. He is one of several claimants to that honor: Ernest Hamwi, Abe Doumar, Albert and Nick Kabbaz, Arnold Fornachou, and David Avayou all have been touted as the inventor(s) of the first edible cone. Interestingly, these individuals have in common the fact that they all made or sold confections at the St. Louis World’s Fair.

Children and their mother enjoy ice cream cones at the St. Louis World’s Fair. The fair certainly helped make ice cream cones popular, but they probably were invented by a New Yorker who obtained a patent in 1903. (Image courtesy Missouri History Museum)

It is believed that Italo Marchiony, who migrated from Italy in the late 19th century, produced the first ice cream cone in 1896 in New York City. They give credit to Menches for introducing and popularizing ice cream cones rather than for creating it. The patent for cone-making was awarded to Italo Marchiony in 1903. Marchiony was a street vendor on Wall Street where he sold lemon ices from a pushcart to Wall Street brokers and runners. He had been working on a cone-making device since 1896 and filed for a patent in 1902.

Opening-day crowds at the St. Louis World’s Fair gather outside the Palace of Varied Industries, one of a dozen massive exhibition halls featuring the industrial, agricultural and cultural output of America. The palace was just north of the Grand Basin, on land now part of the Forest Park golf course. (Image courtesy Missouri History Museum)

Some of the people who attended the more than two hours of speeches on April 30, 1904, opening day of the St. Louis World’s Fair. In the left background is Festival Hall, built upon what now is called Art Hill. (Image courtesy Missouri History Museum)

The 264-foot-tall Ferris Wheel, a major attraction at the fair, which was installed in Forest Park near Skinker and Forsyth boulevards. It first was used at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, then brought down to St. Louis for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. Each of its 36 cars could hold 40 people. After the fair, the wheel was scrapped. Its axle supposedly was buried in the park. Just where it might be is one of the enduring mysteries of the fair. (Image courtesy Missouri History Museum)

Visitors enjoy a water-chute ride at the St. Louis World’s Fair. (Image courtesy Missouri History Museum)

A view down the Ten Million Dollar Pike, a midway of amusements and concessions. It ran along the north side of Lindell Boulevard west of DeBaliviere Avenue. It was one of the fair’s most popular features. (Image courtesy Missouri History Museum)

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