July 25, 2004

Bring me Zalabia!

Dave T. picqued my curiosity by posting this item:

We All Scream...

...for ice cream, especially if we can eat the dish.

And thanks to Syrian immigrant and entrepreneur Ernest E. Hamwi, we can. One hundred years ago today at the St. Louis World's Fair, in response to a cry for help from a neighboring ice cream vendor who'd run out of dishes, Hamwi rolled up one of his waffles and made history.!

I googled a bit, and found many versions of the tale. Sometimes with the inventor named Ernest A. Hamwi. Here's another one:
During the Fair a Syrian immigrant named Ernest A. Hamwi decided to try something different to help out a teenage ice cream vendor he was next to who was having problems selling his product.  Ernest was a pastry vendor at the Fair and sold "Zalabia" (click on the name for a recipe) which was a crisp, sugar-coated, warm waffle which he made over an open fire using a waffle iron.  Taking a Zalabia while it was still warm and soft, he rolled it into a cone shape and let it cool.  Once cool the cone was handed to his next-door neighbor, Arnold Fomachou, at the Fair who was selling ice cream.  The cone was scooped full of ice cream and given the name World's Fair Cornucopia.  It was an immediate success.  By the time the Fair had ended, ice cream vendors had started to seek out pastry suppliers to collaborate on making the ideal Ice Cream Cornucopia.  The ice cream cone had caught on and the idea traveled home with Fair-goers to all parts of the globe.  After the fair, Hamwi sold his waffle oven to J. P. Heckle and helped him develop and open the Cornucopia Waffle Company. Ernest traveled for Cornucopia introducing the new way of eating ice cream. In 1910, Hamwi opened the Missouri Cone Company.
Here's some more...
It was not long afterward that another Lebanese immigrant, Albert George, along with other family members, bought some second-hand cone-baking machines and started the George & Thomas Cone Company in 1918. In 2004, that company is still owned/operated by the George family, together with the employees. As such, the company is now an ESOP and is known as Joy Cone Company, after its signature brand of ice cream cones. It is today the largest ice cream cone company in the world, baking over 1.5 billion cones/year...

Posted by John Weidner at July 25, 2004 6:08 PM
Weblog by John Weidner