Today in History

Today in History: July 23

The Ice-Cream Cone

I give Bette the church money for the family, but I do my own charity work myself, so I can see where my money goes. I like to send the ragged little boys who hang around the shop to the movies occasionally, and give them money for ice cream cones to cool them off in summer.

Marion Jennings,
"Growing Up with the Automobile,"
Charleston, South Carolina,
Rose D. Workman, interviewer,
February 10, 1939.
American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940

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 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition, known as the St. Louis World's Fair. It is from the time of the Fair that the edible "cornucopia," a cone made from a rolled waffle, vaulted into popularity in the United States.

Another claimant, Italo Marchiony, actually received a patent in 1903 for a device to make edible cups with handles. However the patent drawings show the device as a molded container rather than the rolled waffle seen at the Fair. Although paper and metal cones were used by Europeans to hold ice cream and pita bread was used by Middle Easterners to hold sweets, the ice-cream cone seems to have come to America by way of "the Pike (external link)" (as the entertainment midway of the St. Louis World's Fair was called).

Jefferson's Recipe for Vanilla Ice Cream
Thomas Jefferson's Recipe
for Vanilla Ice Cream,

Holograph Recipe,
1780s.
American Treasures of the Library of Congress

As for the origins of ice-cream, an equal amount of folklore abounds. In the fourth century B.C., the Roman Emperor Nero apparently ordered ice be brought from the mountains and combined with fruit toppings. Although legend has it that Marco Polo brought back to Europe a Chinese method for creating an ice and milk concoction, recent scholarship indicates that if he did bring back such a recipe, it was probably not from China but from elsewhere along his route. Over time, recipes for ices, sherbets, and milk ices evolved and were served in the fashionable Italian and French royal courts. After the dessert made its appearance in the United States, it was served by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Dolley Madison. It also was set out for guests at the inauguration of Andrew Jackson.

The use of ice mixed with salt to lower and control the temperature of the mix of ingredients proved a major breakthrough in the creation of ice cream as we know it. The invention of the wooden bucket freezer with rotary paddles (external link) facilitated its manufacture at home, making ice-cream a staple of kitchens across the land.

A Baltimore company first produced and marketed wholesale ice-cream in 1851. The treat became both distributable and profitable with the introduction of mechanical refrigeration. The ice-cream shop or soda fountain has since become an icon of American culture.

Farm Boys Eating Ice-Cream Cones, Washington, Indiana
Farm boys eating ice-cream cones,
Washington, Indiana,
John Vachon, photographer,
July 1941.
America from the Great Depression to World War II: Photographs from the FSA and OWI Photographs, ca. 1935-1945

Children Making Ice Cream
Children making ice cream…,
Caswell County, North Carolina,
Marion Post Wolcott, photographer,
circa October 1940.
America from the Great Depression to World War II: Photographs from the FSA and OWI Photographs, ca. 1935-1945

Children with Ice Cream Cones
Children with ice cream cones, National Rice Festival,
Crowley, Louisiana,
Russell Lee, photographer,
October 1938.
America from the Great Depression to World War II: Photographs from the FSA and OWI Photographs, ca. 1935-1945

Indulge your taste for the heavenly cream with the American Memory collections:

Dud Leaves Home

Dud Leaves Home
Dud Leaves Home,
Bray Pictures Corporation,
Wallace Carlson, animator and writer, 1919.
Origins of American Animation

Dud wants to buy his girlfriend Maime an ice cream cone, so he breaks open his mother's bank and splits her last dime in half in the process. His mother punishes him, so he runs away. Dud is scared by imaginary ghosts in the dark, so he runs back home where he gets a spanking from his mother.

The Origins of American Animation documents the development of early American animation. The collection includes twenty-one animated films and two fragments which span the years 1900 to 1921. The films features clay, puppet, and cut-out animation, as well as pen drawings.

Cardinal James Gibbons

Statue of Cardinal Gibbons
Cardinal James Gibbons, c 1886,
Prints & Photographs Online Catalog

Roman Catholic Cardinal James Gibbons, champion of labor and advocate of the separation of church and state, was born to Irish immigrants in Baltimore, Maryland, on July 23, 1834. Not long after his birth, Gibbons' ailing father moved the family back to Ireland at his doctor's suggestion. After his father's death in 1847, Gibbons' mother decided to move her family back to the United States. On their harrowing journey, their boat was shipwrecked in the Bahamas, but the family eventually reached its destination of New Orleans in 1853.

St. Mary's Seminary Chapel
St. Mary's Seminary Chapel, North Paca Street & Druid Hill Avenue, Baltimore, Independent City, MD, building completed circa 1808,
altered 1840 and 1915,
E. H. Pickering, photographer, July 1936.
Built in America: Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record, 1933-Present

In 1857, Gibbons entered St. Mary's Seminary, the oldest seminary in the United States, to study for the priesthood. (St. Mary's was founded in 1791 by the Sulpicians, a community of diocesan priests that originated in France in 1641; its sole mission is to educate fellow priests.) He was ordained in Maryland in 1861. During the Civil War he served as a volunteer chaplain at Fort McHenry and Fort Marshall. He next spent nine years as a missionary in the South where he interacted with many different types of people. These formative experiences led to his famous exposition of Catholic doctrine, Faith of Our Fathers.

Gibbons was esteemed within the Catholic Church and was appointed to positions of increasing importance. He became vicar apostolic of North Carolina at the age of thirty-two and bishop of Richmond in 1872. In 1877 he was appointed coadjutor to  the archbishop of Baltimore and titular archbishop of Ionopolis (Janopolis). Five months later, following the death of the archbishop of Baltimore, Gibbons became the head of the oldest archdiocese in America.

On June 30, 1886, Pope Leo XIII named Archbishop Gibbons the second American cardinal. (The first American cardinal, Archbishop John McCloskey, was named by Pope Pius IX in 1875.) Gibbons became the first chancellor of the Catholic University of America (external link) in 1889.

An ardent proponent of American civic institutions, Cardinal Gibbons frequently lauded democracy, calling the U.S. Constitution the finest instrument of government ever created. In his communications with church leaders in Rome, he  and "the Americanizers" championed the benefits of the separation of church and state. After the Canadian branch of the Knights of Labor was declared incompatible with the Roman Catholic faith, Gibbons convinced the pope to support the laborers.

Gibbons was known to several presidents. He was a frequent visitor to the Cleveland White House. President William Taft honored Gibbons for his contributions at his 1911 golden jubilee celebration of his ordination as a priest. In 1917, President Theodore Roosevelt hailed Gibbons as the most venerated, respected, and useful citizen in America.

Roman Catholic Cathedral of Baltimore Roman Catholic Cathedral of Baltimore

Minor Basilica, Assumption of the Virgin Mary, the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Baltimore,
building completed in 1821,
photographed and documented after 1933.
Built in America: Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American and Engineering Record, 1933-Present

Consecrated in 1821 and designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe, the first Roman Catholic cathedral built in the United States is a beautiful example of the classic Revival style.

The American Memory collections are rich in materials on religion in America.