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Ice Cream Cones: What’s the Scoop??

2022-08-19   ◆   6 minutes read
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Ice cream cones have a history full of twists and turns, but we’re here to help you navigate through them. While we’re at it, we’ll even help you distinguish the many available types and how every cone you eat helps reduce the impact on our environment. Keep on reading!

Beautiful and delicious italian gelato in waffle cone in front of streets and bridges of Venice. Ice cream in girls hands on background of water canal and historic buildings of Italy. Travel Europe.

The Birth of Ice Cream Cones

When ice cream’s popularity started rising in the 19th century, it was only a matter of time until street vendors started selling them in glass containers, notably the infamous “penny licks.” As you can imagine, it’s not surprising they were known for being unsanitary with a name like that. Patrons would lick ice cream off the glass cones only for the vendor to reuse them, often without cleaning them! That’s where cones come to play.

Penny Licks (Glass Cones)
Penny licks (Laura Spashett)

The first recorded ice cream cone recipe dates back to 1885. A Victorian celebrity cook, Agnes Bertha Marshall, introduced this invention in her cookbook, “The Book Of Ices.” Known as cornets, they consist of wafer biscuits packed with ice cream or cream filling.



Different Types of Ice Cream Cones

Chocolate Ice cream cake cone OMG Ice Cream
Chocolate ice cream served in a cake cone (OMG Ice Cream)

  1. Cake Cones

Cake cones, or wafer cones, are probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think of “ice cream.” They are light and slightly sweet. They have a flat bottom that makes it easier for kids to hold their ice cream or put it down (if they are tired of holding it). Cake cones are usually a suitable option for those looking for sugar-friendly alternatives. 

Coconut Cream Pie in sugar cone COWS Inc
Coconut cream pie served in a sugar cone (COWS Inc)

  1. Sugar Cones

Contrary to the cake cones, sugar cones offer a slightly sweeter flavour with a pointed tip. To create a thicker and crunchier taste, brown sugar/molasses are added. If you’re still stuck wondering if a cake cone or a sugar cone is superior, know that sugar cones have a stiffer exterior making them suitable to hold those giant ice cream scoops! No need to worry about breaking a cone or getting soggy while you enjoy your cool dessert.

Soft serve ice cream in waffle Riverside Grocery
Soft-served ice cream served in a waffle cone (Riverside Grocery)

  1. Waffle Cones

Not to be confused with a sugar cone, waffle cones are basically its older sibling. What can make a sugar cone better? For it to be bigger! Waffle cones use a mix of cake and pastry flours to create a sugary and crunchy texture. With its wide brim, expect it to hold two scoops of ice cream or three. If you’re feeling funky, you can go for the ones dipped in syrup and smothered with sprinkles. What a heavenly pairing!

Ice cream served in a waffle bowl cone Crack Boom
Ice cream with chocolate toppings served in a waffle bowl cone (Crack & Boom)

  1. Waffle Bowls

Do you like eating desserts and your… bowl? Well, waffle bowl cones are right up your alley. Perfect for those who don’t want to worry about eating the ice cream before it drips down their hands! This edible base is solid enough to keep your scoops safe and tasty while having minimal waste. Soft-serve, sundaes, frozen yogurt, sherbets… it can hold all! The best part is having an extra snack after finishing your frozen dessert.

Chocolate PB ice cream in a pretzel cone How Sweet Eats
Chocolate peanut butter ice cream served in a pretzel cone (How Sweet Eats)

  1. Pretzel Cones

If you’re a fan of savoury desserts, pretzel cones are a great alternative! It creates a beautiful and crunchy balance between sweetness and saltiness. It is the perfect pairing for a variety of rich ice cream flavour profiles such as butter pecan, rocky road, coffee, pistachio, and salted caramel.

Ice cream sandwich Bar Laitier La Shop Glacee
Ice cream sandwich (Bar Laitier La Shop Glacée)

  1. Ice Cream Sandwich Wafers

Looking for a fun way to enjoy your frozen desserts? Ice cream sandwich wafers are fun to eat, and they’re mess-free! Traditionally, the “bread” of these ice cream sandwiches is made out of chocolate wafers. Before being frozen, they are solid and crunchy but turn soft over time. These days, you can try chocolate chip, brownie, and doughnut sandwiches. The choice is yours!

ice cream in gluten free cone Gluten Free on a Shoestring
Vanilla ice cream served in a gluten-free cone (Gluten Free on a Shoestring)

  1. Gluten-Free Cones

Ice cream cones are usually not gluten-friendly since they contain flour. Luckily, someone made the effort to develop gluten-free cones. Made with gluten-free flours, they don’t lack in the flavour department and pair beautifully with your scoop of choice. Dig in!

Twin cone to hold a generous serving
Twin cone to hold a generous serving

  1. Twin Cones

Double the trouble! Made with the same ingredients as the cake cone, these cones give a refreshing experience when enjoying your frozen dessert. If you’re looking to try other flavours, these special cones offer more space for extra scoops. Share it with a friend or alone; the possibilities are endless. 

Salted caramel ice cream served in a bacon cone The Crumby Kitchen
Salted caramel ice cream served in a bacon cone (The Crumby Kitchen)

  1. Bacon Cones

Yep, you read that correctly. This is an ice cream cone made out of bacon. This concoction is created by wrapping bacon around a waffle cone mould. Once baked, you get a tasty bacon cone! It is a level-up from the pretzel cone, as this will enhance salty flavours. Although it isn’t for everyone, don’t be afraid to try it out!

ice cream in a chimney cone
Vanilla ice cream topped with citrus syrup served in a chimney cone (Eva’s Original Chimney)

  1. Chimney Cones

You might have heard of “chimney cones,” but we bet you’ve seen them more than you know! Chimney cones, or doughnut cones, are an Eastern European treat called “Kürtőskalács.” The process of creating a chimney cone is quick and easy: Simply shape it into a cone and smother it with cinnamon sugar. You can mostly find chimney cones as street food in Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Romania. Their crunchy exterior and soft interior create a perfect nesting place for your ice cream scoop.

Chocolate ice cream in a bubble waffle
Chocolate ice cream with delicious toppings served in a bubble waffle (The Parlour Gelato + Coffee)

  1. Bubble Waffle Cone

These are popular street food desserts in Hong Kong. It was only in the past few years that this street food took over the Internet. It tastes as good as it looks! This cone is similar to a waffle and its large hexagon-shaped bubbles distinguish it. They are crispy yet pillowy on the inside. You can really pack so much ice cream and toppings in these bubble waffle cones! 

Taiyaki ice cream
Taiyaki ice cream (Taiyaki NYC)

  1. Taiyaki Cones

Another famous Asian street food made its way to online celebrity status: Taiyaki! Shaped like a fish, this awesome frozen snack represents luck and celebration, so why not bring that energy into your dessert? It’s made out of common batter ingredients, but its specialty comes from its diverse fillings. Choose from red bean paste, custard, fruity soft-serve, or even sweet potato fillings. Sweet, savoury, there is a palette for everybody.

Cornucopias ice cream cone
Cornucopias
Left, Cornucopias ice cream cone (Glorious Treats); Right, Cornucopias (Avas Flowers)

The Relation to Cornucopias

Cornucopia, also referred to as the horn of plenty, is an item that symbolizes abundance and nourishment. Thus, it became an attribute of several Greek and Roman deities. It is a horn-shaped container that holds produce, nuts and flowers. This is especially popular in the Fall as it is commonly used as a Thanksgiving decoration. These days, cornucopias are also served as a snack! By dampening the ends of a sugar cone, you can swirl it upwards to recreate the look of the cornucopias basket. Perfect for a Thanksgiving treat or a Halloween treat!

Cone making process

How are Ice Cream Cones Made?

Creating traditional cones is easy as 1-2-3, literally! Only three (dry) ingredients are needed: wheat flour, sugar, and tapioca flour. These are the basis for producing a high-quality, sweet, and solid ice cream cone. Of course, we can’t forget the wet ingredients to turn it into magic: water, shortening (edible fat or grease), flavouring, and colouring.

 

Before any liquid is added, air compressors mix the dry ingredients to help regulate the quantities. Various combinations of ingredients create other cone types such as waffle cones and sugar cones. Once it’s ready, either bake them flat and roll them into a cone shape of choice or bake them inside the preferred mould shape. But what about the big ice cream containers or serving cups? Are they eco-friendly like cones?

Dirty beach shore with plastic garbagefrom plastic garbage
Dirty beach shore with plastic garbage

Less Waste, More Ice Cream

Thanks to the rise of environmentally-friendly practices, it is important to understand how the use of plastics affects most aspects of our lives. With Canada ranked as the top 6th ice cream consumer in the world, WorldAtlas reports that each person consumes on average 10.6 litres each year. Contrary to popular belief, most ice cream cartons aren’t actually recyclable or compostable. This is due to their plastic linings aimed at preventing melting ice cream from seeping out. 

 

As of May 2022, 50-75 trillion pieces of plastic and microplastics were recorded floating in the ocean. Although Canada isn’t one of the top 10 countries that produce the most plastic waste, we aren’t totally exempted from accountability. One-third of Canada’s total plastic production is single-use products and packaging. That’s a lot. Imagine the amount of waste accumulated!

 

Luckily, there are other alternatives to enjoy your favourite frozen dessert with minimal waste. One of those is using cones! Ice cream cones provide zero waste consumption since every part is edible. Keep in mind that cornets (sold at groceries) are excluded. They are packaged individually in plastic wraps. Other forms of ice cream packaging include tubs and pints that are not always made environment-friendly. With the need to go green, companies are starting the initiative to implement sustainable practices in their processes. To help them with their switch CPP (Canadian Plastics Pact), a non-profit organization, provides guiding rules “for Canadian companies to adjust their packaging design and contribute to a circular economy for plastics packaging” by 2025. 

Consider buying from brands that use plant-based packaging

While the leaders are mostly the vegan ice cream producers such as Cosmic Bliss, Crémerie Swirl, and Nada Moo, we are seeing some movements with traditional ice cream manufacturers. Chapman’s introduced a green initiative where all their packaging is paper-based and SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative) certified. One of the partners of CPP, Nestlé Real Dairy Ice Cream, is one of the first recyclable ice cream containers in Canada. Also, Unilever recently launched new Magnum tabs made with recycled plastic, and their Ben & Jerry’s brand aims to be 100% reusable, compostable, or recyclable by 2025. These companies use bio-based packaging materials, such as sugarcane, as their poly-coating to prevent liquid spillage and protect the product during the freezing process. Just like most changes, these things tend to be gradual, and other companies will surely join the plant-based packaging party!

Plastic Processing Difficulties
How to know which packaging is easy to recycle

How can you determine the recyclability of your ice cream packaging?

Every packaged good is labelled with a recycling number ranging from 1-7. These numbers indicate plastic processing difficulties. For example, containers classified with 1 (PET) and 2 (HDPE) are generally easy to recycle since these types of plastics are common recycling materials. However, you will quickly see that the higher the number, the higher the processing difficulty. Products coded with numbers 3 (PVE) and 7 (Other) are almost impossible to recycle. PVC contains hazardous add-ons which need to be separated from the batch of plastics. On the other hand, other plastic types aren’t a part of the six categories and, therefore cannot be permitted in your recycle bin. Check with your municipality to stay updated on recycling regulations, and look into various recycling programs in your area. 

 

When it comes to ice cream, there are other wastes to consider. For instance, there is a substantial amount of greenhouse gas created during the manufacturing process. Also, the unaccountable use of palm oil affects its environmental impact on rainforests. It’s always important to enjoy what you enjoy; one person can only do so much! However, opting for plant-based recycled, compostable, or reusable ice cream containers is a wonderful step in the right direction to minimizing waste production. Until plant-based packaging becomes an industry standard, you can enjoy guilt-free cones. 

What are you waiting for? Go get that ice cream you deserve! All you have to do is choose which one of these various ice cream cones you want to munch today. 

About the author

DessertAdvisor.com is an organization dedicated to the research of desserts, baked goods, and snacks. The community maintains one of the largest databases of dessert items and dessert places in Canada. 

With a mission to facilitate foodies’ search for their desired products, the site allows finding locations that dessert items are sold at, enhances knowledge on various treats (i.e., variety, flavours, health benefits, history, origins, etc.), and enables people to enjoy the wealth of life.

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