Let’s talk about cones

I remember almost every ice cream cone I ever ate as a kid. Bitter Lemon sorbet on a dark chocolate-dipped waffle cone from the brand new Häagen-Dazs shop in Peoria, Illinois in 1984. The day I switched from Bubble Gum ice cream to “Jungle Fruit” Sherbet, circa 1983, at the old Baskin Robbins in my hometown (don’t ask me what the flavor actually was, but it was great, and I can still taste it). The fresh peach ice cream churned on my grandmother’s porch and the little colorful wafer cups she would fill with vanilla ice cream on a hot day. Or the soft serve cone we enjoyed with her at a picnic table at Emo’s ice cream stand. And the first time I fell in love with green mint chip (always my least favorite), at my own shop in Los Angeles in 2016.

I swear I can remember all of them and who I was with—mostly my sister, Julie. We would be outside the ice cream shop, bouncing around, goofing off and telling jokes until I realized I had to stop and pay attention to the ice cream on my cone before it melted all over me. I could mindlessly eat all the candy in the world and never once pause to think about it. But a cone in the hot sun was different. As a result, my memories of ice cream and of my sister and grandmother, shine brightly in my mind. I don’t think anything holds a thread better in my memory than ice cream cones—those moments are so sharp.

I’m on a mission to get everyone eating a cone this summer. It’s the summer of the cone. It’s the summer to remember.

A cone can focus you in a powerful way. On the ice cream, of course, but also on what’s happening in front of you. It’s physical because licking ice cream from a cone makes it taste better (simply because you are paying attention). And emotional—because this focused, in-the-moment attention helps you create stronger memories. These powerful moments happen when your emotional- and physical-self are alert and in sync (but that doesn’t happen often). I have been making ice cream for 23 years and I have heard similar stories from so many people. I challenge you to find anything else that alerts your attention quite like an ice cream cone.

As grownups, we often forget the magic of an ice cream cone. Out of politeness or a fear of being vulnerable, we trade sugar cones for bowls and spoons. It’s easier to command a bowl. Who cares if it melts? It’s safe inside its walls. But I say, no more! I’m on a mission to get everyone eating a cone this summer. It’s the summer of the cone. It’s the summer to remember.

Subtleties emerge when you’re forced to focus your senses—and an ice cream cone engages all of them. From the moment your eyes make contact with the colorful flavor options, to the way frozen ice cream shocks your warm body, ice cream captivates you. From there, it’s all about the lick. Our ice creams are specifically made to melt at the rate of licking. I’ve spent years getting this formula right because how ice cream melts is everything. It determines how flavor unfurls. Our ice creams start out hard and relax a little with each sweep of your tongue, releasing flavor as you go. It’s all about the melting point of butterfat—solid at room temperature but melts below body temperature. And butterfat absorbs scent, which is released as the ice cream warms on your tongue. If you pay attention as you enjoy your cone, you will find layers you never knew existed. I love to excavate a smoky, beautiful vanilla this way.

This moment, both physical and emotional, is why I make ice cream the way I make ice cream. It’s a complex process that incorporates fresh, real ingredients sourced from a vast community of makers, growers, and producers (over flavorings) and, importantly, does not involve the use of stabilizers (which dull flavor and leave an aftertaste). If you eat your ice cream from a dish, you could lose some of the spectacular nuances of real ingredients. Like the way perfectly caramelized sugar makes you feel. Caramel cannot be synthesized in a flavor lab. It’s either real or it’s not. And a good caramel is emotional.

Everything we do at Jeni’s is in service to this experience. Which is why we are taking our cone game to an even higher level. Today, the first day of summer, we are introducing our brand new, made in-house daily, Buttercrisp Waffle Cone—a recipe unique to us that has been decades in the making. Based on the recipe in my first book, our new waffle cone boasts prominent notes of real butter and vanilla, and a hint of salt to round it all out. It’s the perfect pairing for ice cream—the slightly extra saltiness beautifully highlights the sweetness of our ice creams. The way a salty crust enhances the sweet filling inside a pie.

Our new Buttercrisp cone is a great way to eat our ice cream, but our regular cone lineup is also unique. Our sugar cone and wafer options are made by a small family company on vintage, cast iron presses—and we are the only artisanal ice cream company working with these cones. The sugar cone is an old American recipe, it is crisp and flaky, not the hardened, flavorless variety made everywhere else. And our wafer cone is a perfect toasted crunchiness when you want a simpler platform for your ice cream.

I love pairing different flavors with different cones. Strawberry Buttermilk with a Buttercrisp Waffle Cone. Milkiest Chocolate with a wafer cone. Brambleberry Crisp on a sugar cone. (Speaking of, I still remember the first ice cream cone I ever had with my now husband—butter pecan on a sugar cone.)

So order your ice cream on a cone this summer. Engage with it. Be present. Make memories. And maybe share the experience with some you’d like to get to know better. During these moments, we often reveal something new about ourselves to others.