How Health & Safety brought us the ice cream cone . . .

Today we expect sprinkles or a cheeky flake but when ice cream first made an appearance in the 1800s, it often came with a complimentary dose of cholera or tuberculosis.

Ice cream vendors, or Jacks, served scoops in cups called penny licks - special small, heavy bottom glasses designed especially for ice cream. After finishing their ice cream, customers handed back their well-tongued penny lick, and the next customer ate from the same cup. Because of the conical openings, vendors couldn’t keep the narrow point clean if they tried, which they usually didn’t, consequently Penny licks became the perfect vessel for transmitting disease.

As tuberculosis swept the nation, the medical community pointed at ice cream vendors. A 1879 English medical report blamed a cholera outbreak on the reuse of glassware, and fear of tuberculosis led the city of London to ban penny licks in 1899. The introduction of the waffle cone in the 1920’s meant ice cream could once again be slurped safely . . . something to celebrate in this current heatwave!

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