Why not celebrate this highlight of 2004?

The top news stories of 2004 seem mostly disheartening. The influenza vaccine shortage. Martha Stewart’s imprisonment. The continuing battle in Iraq. The death of Tony Randall, who starred as the persnickety Felix Unger in “The Odd Couple.”
And worst of all, the devastating tsunami on Boxing Day which left almost 150,000 dead and millions without homes.
With all this bad news, we need something to cheer our spirits.
Fortunately, there is one upbeat highlight of the recently-completed year. The ice cream cone celebrated its 100th birthday in 2004.
Ice cream is a very old treat. Most likely originating in China, it was introduced to the western world by King Charles I of England in the early 1600s.
The story goes that King Charles offered his cook a job for life if he would make the king ice cream. This recipe was secret for a century, and only was served to kings and royalty.
In subsequent years, ice cream became a favorite of American presidents. George Washington paid $200 for a recipe, Thomas Jefferson was partial to vanilla ice cream, and Dolly Madison served ice cream at her husband’s inaugural ball.
In the early days, the making of ice cream was an arduous process. It was mixed by hand in a large bowl surrounded by packed ice. The ice had to be cut from lakes and ponds during the winter, then stored in large holes in the ground and packed with straw or sawdust.
When a New England housewife invented the hand-crank ice cream freezer in 1846, the production of ice cream became much easier. And the first commercial ice cream plant was started just a few years later.
In 1866, William Breyer hand-cranked his first gallon of ice cream in the kitchen of his Philadelphia home. Soon he was selling Breyers ice cream (a brand still sold today) to his neighbours from a wagon pulled by a white horse.
A few decades later, Italo Marchiony sold ice cream from a push cart in New York City. But the street vendor grew tired of seeing customers walk off with his dishes, so Marchiony invented the ice cream cone.
Soon after Marchiony patented his invention, the ice cream cone was independently introduced at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis.
A pastry maker had a concession stand next to an ice cream stand on the fairgrounds. When his neighbour ran out of dishes, the pastry maker rolled some of his wafers into cornucopias and sold them to the ice cream concessionaire.
Thus, in 1904, the ice cream cone began its journey toward becoming an American icon.
Today, ice cream comes in hundreds of flavours, from the mundane to the exotic. In Tokyo, you can buy octopus, shrimp, or sea-weed ice cream. And new varieties enter the market each year, with current Ben & Jerry’s research including fast food ice cream flavours such as cheese and chili.
Luckily, for the less adventurous palate, there are always the good stand-bys—chocolate, vanilla and strawberry.
So, choose your favorite flavour, grab a scoop and a cone, and celebrate the New Year remembering one of the good news stories from 2004.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at thisside60@aol.com or visit www.visit-snider.com

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