The 1904 St. Louis World's Fair
Myths and Legends:  FOOD at the Fair?

1904 W.F. Society

          1. The Ice Cream Cone
          2. Iced Tea
          3. The Hot Dog
          4. The Hamburger
          5. Dr. Pepper
          6. Cotton Candy

References: In addition to the websites listed below, the following reference materials were also used:

  1. Souvenir World’s Fair booklets, from 1904.
  2. Information about many food "inventions" can be found in Linda Stradley's book, of I'll Have What They're Having - Legendary Local Cuisine, or at her website:, and

 1. The Ice Cream Cone was invented at the 1904 World's Fair. (Probably True)

There are only small bits of evidence of the ice cream cone prior to the 1904 World's Fair: an 1894 recipe book for cream-filled cornets, and a 1903 patent on 'waffle cups' with handles. There's very little evidence of the existence of a true ice cream 'cone' prior to 1904. Given the abundance of stories of its invention at the fair, it seems likely (or even probable) that the ice cream cone was 'invented' at the fair. There's no doubt, however, that the ice cream cone was initially popularized at the Fair.

Various 'combinations and blendings' of the many stories below are often stated as "fact". Most stories, websites, and even the International Association of Ice Cream Manufacturers (IAICM), credit pastry maker Ernest Hamwi for the ice cream cone's invention, when he rolled up his Zalibia waffle for ice cream vendor Arnold Fomachou, who had ran out of dishes. However, there are many stories, and most are impossible to verify as the ‘truth’ after 100 years.

  • An 1894 cookbook by Charles Ranhofer, chef at the famous Delmonico's restaurant in New York, contained a recipe for rolled waffle-cornets filled with flavored whipped cream.
  • Italo Marchiony, an Italian immigrant, sold his homemade ice cream (lemon ice) from a pushcart (hokey-pokey) on Wall Street in New York City. To reduce his overhead from lost dishes, in 1896 he began baking and using edible waffle cups with sloping sides and a flat bottom for his lemon ice. On September 22, 1903, he filed a patent application out of the city and state of New York, and U.S. Patent No. 746,971 was issued to him on December 15, 1903.
    • His patent drawings show a mold for shaping small edible cups, complete with tiny handles - not a cone. When cones became popular after the St. Louis Fair, he tried to protect his patent through legal channels but failed. It wasn't until Marchiony's obituary was printed in the New York Times on October 29, 1954 that this story was made public.
    • According to one website about Marchiony, in 1904 he took his confection to the Louisiana Exposition in St. Louis. While there, he ran out of his patented cups and asked a waffle maker in the next booth to roll the waffles in to the shape of a cone. Because of the success at the Exposition, the idea of an edible ice cream container spread throughout the country. Marchiony's company thrived at 219 Grand Street in Hoboken, turning out ice cream cones and wafers until his plant was destroyed by fire in 1934. He retired from his business in 1938 and died in 1954 at the age of 86.
  • Several stories exist about the 'invention' of the Ice Cream cone at the 1904 St. Louis Worlds Fair, where there were about fifty ice cream stands and a large number of waffle shops (according to various websites; but this number is undocumented in official World's Fair literature).
    1. The first version is said to be "official" by the International Association of Ice Cream Manufacturers (IAICM). It credits Syrian immigrant and pastry maker Ernest Hamwi with coming to the aid of Arnold Fomachou, a teenage ice cream vendor (who ran out of dishes). He rolled the ice cream into crisp wafers that he called a Zalibia (a wafer-thin, waffle-like confection sprinkled with sugar). Ice cream concessionaires all over the fairgrounds began to purchase his waffles, calling them "cornucopias", and the World's Fair Cornucopia was born. After the fair, Hamwi sold his waffle oven to J. P. Heckle, and helped him develop and open the Cornucopia Waffle Company. In 1910, Hamwi opened the Missouri Cone Company.
    2. Another popular version dates the invention of the ice cream cone on July 23, 1904, according to the Library of Congress. It credits Charles Robert Minches (also, more popularly, Menches) and his brother Frank, who ran various concessions at fairs and events across the Midwest. The brothers' family claims that they invented the ice cream cone at the 1904 Fair when a lady friend, for daintier eating, took one layer of an ice cream sandwich and rolled it into a cone around the ice cream (as documented in Famous First Facts by Joseph Nathan Kane). After the fair, Charles and his brother started a business called the Premium Ice Cream Cone and Candy Company in Akron, Ohio. (The Menches brothers are also credited with the invention of candy-coated peanuts and popcorn, today known as Cracker Jacks, and the first hamburger.)
    3. Abe Doumar, a Lebanese immigrant, also claimed to have invented the ice cream cone in a very similar way at the Fair, where he worked at the Jerusalem exhibit. He turned his penny waffle into a 10-cent cone when he added ice cream. He later set up business at Coney Island, New Jersey, with three partners in 1905. His son, Albert, later wrote a family history called The Saga of the Ice Cream Cone. Albert Doumar provided papers, photos, and parts of the original cone machine for the Smithsonian Institution, who has noted that though many claim credit for inventing the ice cream cone, there is no doubt the machine is the real deal.
    4. The family of Nick Kabbaz, an Syrian immigrant, claims that he and his brother, Albert, were the originators of the cone. The Kabbaz brothers may have worked for Ernest Hamwi. Kabbaz was later president of the St. Louis Ice Cream Cone Company.
    5. Turkish Immigrant David Avayou, an owner of several ice cream shops in New Jersey, also claimed the invention of the cone when he substituted an edible cone for a paper cone. After the Fair, he set up an ice cream cone concession at a Philadelphia department store.
  • Finally, a patent on automatic machinery for making cones was filed in 1912 by Frederick Bruckman of Portland, Oregon.

Library of Congress link:, Linda Stradley, author of I'll Have What They're Having - Legendary Local Cuisine

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2. Iced Tea was invented at the 1904 Fair. (False)

There are many legends about this invention at the Fair, but this is another 'invention' that is difficult to document. Apparently, iced tea was enjoyed much earlier than 1904. Lyndon Irwin found a newspaper article that documented the use of iced tea at a veteran's reunion in 1890. Iced tea was likely 'popularized' at the 1904 Fair to visitors from all over.

  • According to the most popular story, on a sweltering day during the St. Louis World's Fair, Englishman Richard Blechynden's tea concession was not doing well. Thinking quickly, Mr. Blechynden added ice to his tea and created a beverage that has become an American favorite.

  • More recently, 1904 World's Fair Society member Dr. Lyndon Irwin was writing an article about the Missouri's Reunion of Ex-Confederate Veterans that was held in Nevada, MO on September 20 and 21, 1890. He found a newspaper article that told about 15,000 veterans who converged on the city of Nevada, including several hundred from St. Louis. On the first day, a huge meal was served at the Artesian Park. The article reads in part: "The following figures will convey some idea of the amount of provision used…4,800 pounds of bread, 11,705 pounds of beef,…and a wagon load of potatoes. It was all washed down with 2,220 gallons of coffee and 880 gallons of iced tea." This was fourteen years before the St. Louis World's Fair! The article was written in a matter-of-fact style that appears to assume that 1890 readers knew what iced tea was.

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3. The Hot Dog was invented at the 1904 Fair. (False)

The hot dog was popularized at the 1904 Fair--and for the first time with mustard, according to French's mustard web site. Hot dog historian Bruce Kraig, Ph.D., retired professor emeritus at Roosevelt University, says the Germans often ate 'dachshund' sausages with bread in the late 1800s. Kraig says the most likely scenario is that the practice was just handed down by German immigrants, and gradually became widespread in American culture. Today we know this as the hot dog, a 'sausage' nestled in a bun.

  • One story about this 'invention' at the fair is that a German concessionaire named Antoine Feuchtwanger lent gloves to his sausage customers to wear while eating his steaming hot sausages. Many of the gloves were not returned, so Antoine got his brother-in-law, a baker, to make long rolls to encase the sausages
  • As an interesting sidelight, the French's mustard web site notes that at the St. Louis World's Fair their "zippy yellow sauce became forever 'linked' with that brand-new American classic, the hot dog."
  • However, in April 1900, Harry Stevens was having no success selling ice cream and soft drinks to New York Giants fans, because it was a cold day at the Polo Grounds in New York. It occurred to Harry that the fans would more likely buy something hot, so he sent out for some long German sausages and sold them in warm buns. He advertised them as "red hot dachshund sausages."

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4. The Hamburger was invented at the 1904 Fair. (False)

Ample evidence points to the 'invention of the hamburger' earlier than 1904, but again, 'popularized' can become interpreted as 'invented'. Legend sometimes overtakes fact.


  • Hamburg, New York, is famous as the home of the Erie County Fair & Expo, and claims to have given birth to the hamburger. In the summer of 1885 at the Fair, concessionaires Frank and Charles Menches were cooking their specialty, a pork sausage sandwich. The local meat market had run out of pork sausage (perhaps due to the heat), so he returned with five pounds of chopped beef. Menches formed the beef into patties and cooked it up on his stove. Thus was born and christened the hamburger, which was to become America's favorite sandwich. They called this sandwich the hamburger after Hamburg, New York where the fair was being held.
  • The 1893 Chicago World's Fair also claims to have 'introduced' the hamburger to the United States.
  • Most Texans seem to think that the real beginning of the hamburger was when Fletch Davis (also known as "old Dave") from Athens, Texas decided to try something new in 1904. He took some raw hamburger steak and placed it on his flat grill and fried it until it was a crisp brown on both sides. Then he placed the browned patty of meat between two thick slices of homemade toast and added a thick slice of raw onion to the top. At the urging of his friends and family, he opened up a concession stand and began selling the ground beef patty sandwich at the Pike at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904.
  • "Hamburger Steak, Plain" and "Hamburger Steak, with Onions," was served at the Tyrolean Alps Restaurant at the 1904 Saint Louis World's Fair.
  • But, legends and myths continue, as the Iowa Beef Industry Council's web page says that both the hamburger and ice cream cone "debuted" at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis.

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5. Dr. Pepper was invented at the 1904 Fair. (False)

Dr. Pepper was invented in Waco, Texas, and sold regionally well before 1904. But, it was widely introduced and popularized at the Fair, according to Dr. Pepper's official website.

  • Wade Morrison’s Old Corner Drug Store in downtown Waco, Texas was a prominent business and popular meeting place in 1885. The pharmacist, Charles Alderton, wanted to invent a drink that tasted the wonderful way the soda fountain smelled--with many fruit, spice and berry aromas. After much experimentation he finally felt he had hit on "something different." Morrison named it Dr Pepper, after the father of a girl he had loved back in his home state of Virginia.
  • In 1904 that Dr Pepper gained real national exposure at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. Along with other soon to be favorites like ice cream cones and hamburgers, Dr Pepper was introduced to the rest of the U. S. and the entire world.

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6. Cotton Candy was invented at the 1904 Fair. (False)

This is another food item that was popularized (and called "Fairy Floss") at the fair.

  • Nixon and Kemp’s circus put the calliope on wheels and used it in their circus parade in 1857. That same year, Thomas Patent invented "Fairy Floss", otherwise known as cotton candy, the most popular confection of the circus.


  • The Dictionary of American Food and Drink states that cotton candy first appeared in 1900 at the Ringling Bros. Circus and that Thomas Patton received a patent for the cotton candy machine in 1900.
  • It was invented in 1897 by William Morrison and John C. Wharton, candymakers from Nashville, Tennessee. They invented a device that heated sugar in a spinning bowl that had tiny holes in it. It formed a treat that they originally called "Fairy Floss." As the bowl spun around, the caramelized sugar was forced through the tiny holes, making feathery candy that melts in the mouth.
  • They introduced it to the world at the St. Louis World's Fair (1904) and sold huge amounts of it for 25 cents a box (that was lot of money back then). They sold about 68,655 boxes at that fair. The term "cotton candy" began to be used for this treat in about 1920. In the United Kingdom, it is called "candy floss."

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