Doumar Ice Cream Cone Mandrel, 1970s

Doumar Ice Cream Cone Mandrel, 1970s

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The ice cream cone is surely one of America’s favorite treats, and, as with many foods, there are different versions of its origin story. While ice cream was often eaten with sweet wafers in Europe and in colonial America, the first known recipe for “coronets with cream” dates to 1888, when it appeared in the English cookbook Mrs. A.B. Marshall’s Cookery Book. Despite such precedents for filling cone-shaped wafers with cream, ice cream cones as we know them did not become popular in America until 1904, when opportunity and innovation came together at the St. Louis World’s Fair.
Although details of the story vary, the basic elements involve a Syrian immigrant named Ernest A. Hamwi, whose Persian waffle concession at the fair sat next to an ice cream stand. Abe Doumar, a young man known to Hamwi, is believed to have suggested combining the two treats and filled a rolled-up waffle with ice cream. The resulting “cornucopia” proved to be a boon to business and other vendors quickly followed suit, affirming the fair’s reputation as the place where the ice cream cone was invented.
Complicating this narrative is the 1903 patent awarded to Italo Marchiony, an Italian ice vendor in New York, for an edible ice cream cone mold. The extent to which vendors at the St. Louis World’s Fair were aware of this invention is not known, but Marchiony went on to operate a successful fleet of push carts selling ice cream cones in New York for another 35 years.
After the World’s Fair, Abe Doumar carried the idea of shaping thin waffles into ice cream cones to the East Coast, eventually opening Doumar’s Cones and Barbecue restaurant in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1933. Sixty years later the Doumar family donated two ice cream cone mandrels to the museum, including this solid maple example, which dates to the 1970s. Using the mandrel’s tip, the cone maker lifts the thin, browned wafer off the waffle plates and wraps it around the mandrel to form the classic cone shape. The Doumar’s original cone machine and process were still in use at their Norfolk restaurant as of 2015.
Currently not on view
Object Name
mandrel, ice cream
Doumar Family
Physical Description
wood, maple (overall material)
overall: 19 cm x 4.5 cm; 7 1/2 in x 1 3/4 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Albert Doumar
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Work and Industry: Food Technology
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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