Published June 1, 2012. From Cook's Country.
We tasted five supermarket sugar cones and waffle cones (after much debate, we decided to save cup-style “cake” cones for another day), both plain and filled with vanilla ice cream.
Food historians have debunked the story that ice cream cones were invented at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, but they haven’t yet been able to determine when they did originate. Horn-shaped wafers filled with ice cream, called “cornets,” appear to have been served nearly 100 years earlier in Paris, while dessert wafers, rolled or flat, date back to the Middle Ages. We tasted five supermarket sugar cones and waffle cones (after much debate, we decided to save cup-style “cake” cones for another day), both plain and filled with vanilla ice cream.
Despite their name, “sugar” cones are no sweeter than “waffle” cones. While the ingredients are similar, sugar cones are smaller and symmetrical. Waffle cones hold more ice cream and have an angled, wrapped opening and a more pronounced “waffle” texture. Sold in boxes of 12, the cones came nested in foam clamshells and sealed in plastic bags to preserve freshness.
Tasters preferred cones that were less sweet, for better contrast with the sweet ice cream. We set aside ice cream–filled cones for 20 minutes in 74-degree weather and found that all stayed commendably crisp and leak-free, even as the ice cream turned soupy. Our favorite cone even comes with its own paper jacket to help keep things neat. While we recommend all five products, we listed them in order of (slight) preference.