Rocky Road Ice Cream

[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

In the cutthroat world of ice cream scoop shops, where homemade ice cream and toppings are now the norm, the movement towards homemade ice cream cones was all but inevitable. It's an increasingly common sight, from Ici's slender, tuile-like cones in Berkeley to the massive, crunchy waffles at OddFellows in Brooklyn. Even ice cream trucks have gotten in on the action, such as Itizy's cones made right in their mobile kitchen.

Of course making your own ice cream cones is nothing new—European references to cones or "cornets" date back as early as the 19th Century, and in America, the first commercially available cones were made by small vendors and rolled by hand; patents on machines that could roll cones didn't emerge until 1923.*

* For more ice cream cone history, see here.

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[Photograph: Max Falkowitz]

Scoop shop owners today know the same thing they did 150 years ago: freshly made cones don't just taste good—they're free marketing. The smell of waffle cones baking is pretty much impossible for any sane person to resist, and their warm, toasty aroma can make a passerby think ice cream even in the dead of winter.

But fresh waffle cones are a tiny fraction of America's total cone consumption. Your average ice cream cone is one of these two:

  • Sugar cone: A cone-shaped cookie with a sweet flavor and smooth texture. Firm, crunchy, and nutty, though sometimes to prone to melting ice cream leakage.
  • Wafer/cake cone: A thin, molded wafer that looks more like a sherbet cup. The flavor is cottony and the texture is a little like sugary cardboard.

You can imagine which the Serious Eats Ice Cream Bureau prefers.

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[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

But not always. In my informal survey on ice cream cones, several people pointed out that they prefer wafer cones for eating soft serve ice cream. Some love the nostalgic feel; others appreciate that the cone softens into a sweet mush as the melty ice cream dissolves the lacquered layers of starch.

I also heard reports from those who prefer their cones crumbled on top of a scoop of ice cream as a topping, others who won't touch anything but a fresh waffle cone, some who want a touch of marshmallow or chocolate goop in the bottom of their cone to prevent leakage...clearly folks have some Opinions On Cones.

So tell me: do you get your ice cream in cones? What type of cone do you like? Sound off in the comments.

About the author: Max Falkowitz is the New York editor at Serious Eats. You can follow him on Twitter at @maxfalkowitz.

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