KAYSVILLE -- Before ice cream cones were invented more than 100 years ago, ice cream was scooped into small glasses and sold for mere pennies, allowing customers to lick the ice cream right out of the glass.
Customers could then return the glass to the vendor.
It seemed like a great concept, until vendors started losing money when glasses were accidentally broken or stolen by customers. Even worse, on hot sweltering days, the ice cream vendors couldn't wash the cups fast enough.
Enter the ice cream cone, though it is hotly disputed as to who actually invented it. Kaysville resident Gordon Christensen believes the true inventor was Italo Marchiony, an Italian immigrant who created his first ice cream cone on Sept. 22, 1896 in New York, where he sold homemade lemon ice from a push cart on Wall Street.
At first, he tried using paper cups in place of the small glasses, but when that didn't work that well, he watched someone making waffles and began an experiment using the waffle to make an edible container. His creativity resulted in a waffle cone shaped like a cup with sloping sides and a flat bottom that could hold ice cream.
He eventually applied for and received the first patent in 1903 for his ice cream cone, which is why many believe he is the founding father of the ice cream cone.
In honor of such a pivotal invention, Christensen and his family have been celebrating the birthday of the ice cream cone for the last 25 years. They first learned about the special day when Christensen took his children to the library.
"It shocked me that they were serving ice cream at the library, but the librarian said they were celebrating the birthday of the ice cream cone. I had never heard of that before," Christensen said. "On the way home, I said, 'That would be another good family tradition.' "
So in 1987, he began inviting all of the neighborhood kids over to Hods Hollow Park in Kaysville, where he and his family served more than 100 cones.
As the tradition progressed over the years, they began serving more ice cream cones, eventually reaching 300 one year.
The best part of the tradition for the 79-year-old is watching the kids eat the delectable treat -- especially when the ice cream starts melting and dripping everywhere.
"I just enjoy doing something for the kids to make a few of them happy," Christensen said.
After all the ice cream is doled out, Christensen sits down with the kids and reads a book about ice cream. For many years, he would have the kids participate in games, including contests to see who could eat ice cream the fastest.
"It was something else to see how fast they could eat it," Christensen said. "A lot of them were scared they might get brain freeze, but most did real good."
Having the kids all together seemed like a good teaching opportunity, so Christensen would often teach them about bike safety or the history of the flag.
Eventually, Kaysville officials asked if Christensen could participate in the city's annual car show. Although Christensen initially resisted, saying it was just a family tradition, eventually he joined the Kaysville event. Nine years later, Christensen is a big part of Kaysville's Cool Cones and Cool Cars evening.
Christensen still spends time at the event reading his famous ice cream story to kids, but given that he will be turning 80 next year, he is considering ending his long-time tradition of reading to the kids.
For his oldest daughter, Mona Johnson, now 36, it was a tradition their family enjoyed each year.
"It was like a big party and seeing everyone was something we really looked forward to," said Johnson. "Ice cream was always a draw, probably because ice cream is that all-American dessert."