I am tired of celebrating the 100th anniversary of this, or the 75th anniversary of that. What makes those numbers so special? I told my wife Mary Ellen I had big plans in a few years for our 53rd anniversary.
“Great,” she said, “but what about our 50th?”
“Mary Ellen, 50 is just a number,” I said. “Let’s wait until No. 53. Don’t give the 50th another thought.”
Ever since I said that, Mary Ellen has also not given another thought to making dinner, going shopping or editing my column. I guess it really is the thought that counts.
So, in keeping with my theory, this month I am celebrating the 121st anniversary of the ice cream cone. I skipped the 100th. The 121st? Now, there’s a cause for celebration.
Like other great inventions in history, there is some controversy about who created the first cone. But who could forget Italo Marchiony? Apparently, everybody. You need a name that will stick. Like sandwich, for example. Some food writers think it was invented by the Earl of Sandwich back in the late 1700s, when he put meat between bread so he could play cards while he ate. I went to college with a guy named Herb Cohn. He claimed it was his great, great uncle who invented the ice cream cone. Cone? Cohen? I’m skeptical on this one.
Why did the ice cream cone ever catch on in the first place? An ice cream cone is poorly designed and constructed. Because of the pointed bottom, you can’t set it down. I want to put my cone down on the driving console so I can make a left-hand turn while I’m on my cellphone. There is one kind of cone that has a flat bottom; it also has no taste.
Half the time, an ice cream cone crumbles when you try to balance the second ice cream scoop on top and apply a little pressure. If the ice cream is soft and you pack it down, by the time you’ve taken the 10th lick, it’s leaking out the bottom all over your new beige polyester pants.
If you’re a strong licker, the top scoop falls off in a big plop. And there’s no five-second rule for ice cream. When it hits the ground, it’s history. Except mint chip. I would eat mint chip off the pavement.
We should just be thankful today that we have two alternatives for enjoying America’s favorite frozen treat by using either a cup or cone. What would it be like if people had to carry around a scoop of ice cream in their bare hands? I shiver to think.
By the way, some food historians claim a guy named Reuben Kulakofsky invented that popular corned beef-based sandwich called, of course, a Reuben. I’ll tell you more when we all celebrate the very important 108th anniversary of the Reuben next year.