New Yorker Italo Marchioni had a 1903 patent claim for something like an ice cream cone, but the issue is far from settled.
An ice cream cone or cornet is a cone-shaped pastry, usually made of a wafer similar in texture to a waffle, in which ice cream is served, allowing it to be eaten without a bowl or spoon.
Paper and metal cones were used during the 19th century in France, Germany, and Britain for holding ice cream. One of the first references to an edible cone is in Mrs A. B. Marshall's Cookery Book, written in 1888 by celebrated cookery writer Agnes Marshall. The recipe for "Cornet with Cream" says that - "the cornets were made with almonds and baked in the oven, not pressed between irons". She adds - "these cornets can also be filled with any cream or water ice or set custard or fruits, and served for a dinner, luncheon, or supper dish". Mrs Marshall was an influential innovator and greatly popularised ice cream in Britain. She published two recipe books specifically about ice cream and also patented an ice cream making machine.
On December 13, 1903, a New Yorker named Italo Marchioni, received U.S. patent No. 746971 for a mold for making pastry cups to hold ice cream; he claimed that he has been selling ice cream in edible pastry holders since 1896. Contrary to popular belief, his patent was not for a cone and he lost the lawsuits that he filed against cone manufacturers for patent infringement. Ice cream cones were popularized in St. Louis, Missouri in 1904 at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. According to one legend, a Syrian pastry maker, Ernst Hamwi, who was selling zalabia, a crisp pastry cooked in a hot waffle-patterned press came to the aid of a neighboring ice cream vendor (perhaps Arnold Fornachou or Charles Menches) who had run out of dishes; Hamwi rolled a warm zalabia into a cone that could hold ice cream. However, numerous vendors sold pastries at the World's Fair, and several of them claimed to have invented the ice cream cone, citing a variety of inspirations. After the fair the ice cream cone became popular nationwide. Hamwi's story is largely based on a letter he wrote in 1928 to the Ice Cream Trade Journal, long after he had established the Cornucopia Waffle Company, which had grown into the Missouri Cone Company. Nationally, by that time, the ice-cream cone industry was producing some 250 million cones a year.
4 September 1904, Washington Post, "New Dainties to Eat," pg. A5:
One of the latest innovations which is extremely popular is the idea of selling ice cream encased in a funnel-shaped waffle of delicious taste. The novelty of the idea, the delicacy of the article, all add to the popularity of this combination of ice cream and cake.
10 July 1905, Manitoba (Winnipeg) Free Press, pg. 13:
WANTED -- AGENTS TO OPERATE AND sell ice cream cone ovens and make a small fortune this summer.
19 July 1905, Kansas City Star, pg. 11:
PARTNER, $150, JOIN ME; 1/2 INTEREST; county fairs with ice cream cone machine and splendid show attraction;
20 October 1905, Atlanta Constitution, "Cornucopia Waffles: They Are Attracting Much Attention at the Georgia State Fair," pg. A8:
One of the most attractive exhibits at the fair, and especially which aroused the interest of the visitors, is that of the Cornucopia Waffle Oven Company, of St. Louis, Mo. This company is introducing a new novelty for serving Ice Cream, Marmalades, Charlotte Russe, Fruits and other delicacies without the use of dishes or spoons. It is a Cornucopia or Cone shape crisp cake, made of the choicest flour, sugar and eggs, baked crisp and brown is especially constructed Waffle Ovens. These Cone Waffles are filled with Ice Cream or other delicacies desired, are eaten with the contents and consequently there remains no waste, no spoons, dishes nor napkins to clean. They were first introduced at the great world's fair at St. Louis and immediately, on account of its daintiness and neatness, became the most popular confection and have proven equally so this season in the east and especially at the parks at Coney Island, Atlantic City, Chicago and various other famous resorts. There is no doubt this will be the favorite manner of serving Ices, Salads and other confections to guests at picnics and social functions. This company has a large bakery at St. Louis, where the demands of Cornucopia are supplied; they also manufacture and have on sale the Ovens and Irons for those desiring to do their own baking.