The saga began in 1895 when Italo Marcioni arrived in USA from Italy. He sold lemon ices and ice cream from a push cart on Wall Street, serving small liquor glasses containing his confections to stockbrokers and Wall Street runners. But too many glasses broke or were taken, and washing them was a chore. That’s when Marcioni had his inspiration: serve the ice cream in a cup that could be eaten along with the ice cream! There would be no washing, no waste. So he baked waffles, and while they were still warm, folded them into the shape of a cup. His customers loved the cups – they were convenient, sanitary and tasty. So popular was Marcioni’s waffle cup, that there was a Wall Street boom in his ice cream sales. Soon he had a chain of 45 carts operated by men he hired. Ice cream in his cup became known as a “toot,” possibly derived from the Italian tutti or “all,” since customers were urged to “eat it all.”
But hand-made cups couldn’t keep up with the demand. Marcioni had a good head for mechanics as well as for business, so he adapted the design of the waffle iron to create a device into which batter could be poured, baked and so mass-produce ice cream cups. It was difficult to take the fragile cups out of the mold without their breaking. He solved the problem by dividing the bottom half of the mold, to separate it from the baked cups. And instead of one mold for each cup, he arranged two rows of five in each mould to produce 10 cups at a time.
Marcioni applied for a patent on his device in 1902 and it was awarded in 1903. In 1904, he established a wholesale ice cream and candy business in Hoboken, operating a fleet of horse-drawn wagons to supply retailers all over the metropolitan area. Not wanting to get into the machinery business, Marcioni made no effort to sell his molding machines to other manufacturers. Instead, he built up an extensive trade in bulk orders for the fragile, delicious cones themselves. Marchiony’s advertising proudly and properly identified him as “the oldest manufacturer of ice cream cones and wafers.” And Italo Marchiony (He Americanized the spelling of his name to “Marchiony”) of Hoboken, an immigrant, became the founder of a great American institution: the ice cream cone.