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What's the Best Ice Cream Cone? An Investigation.

Are you on Team Waffle, Cake, or Sugar? We examine the merits of the three major ice cream cone options.
By Published July 20, 2022

An argument broke out at work over ice cream.

No one was arguing about the merits of it—we can all agree ice cream is pretty dang awesome.

But where collars got playfully ruffled was when the discussion turned to ice cream cones.

I, unabashed lover of waffle cones, find it mind-boggling that a fellow human would find waffle cones impractical and subpar. And yet a work colleague did! That's as astonishing as suggesting Santa Claus is a member of the Illuminati.

As it turns out, our staff at America's Test Kitchen has very strong opinions about their ice cream vessels of choice. Do they know something that I don't?

In my never-ending quest to better myself, I've decided to examine the three major cone groups objectively—waffle, sugar, cake—looking at each one's good and bad traits. (Yes, there are others—dipped cones are considered an add-on. Kid cones are mini-cake cones. Pretzel cones . . . are those even popular?!)

And maybe I'll arrive at some ice cream cone epiphany. Maybe.

Sugar Cone

Pros

  • A strong and sturdy crunch
  • Ridged and latticed waffle cone–like pattern adds texture to the cone
  • Good for long-term storage; degrades in quality the slowest
  • Ergonomically designed


Cons

  • Flavor can be on the plain side (made with flour and brown sugar)
  • Leaks are possible if cone is not sealed properly
  • Can't put down on a flat surface


Cake Cone (or Safety Cone, Wafer Cone)

Pros

  • Light and crisp; requires least amount of stomach real estate
  • Can be placed on flat surfaces
  • Bottom of cake cones features appealingly crunchy nooks and crannies
  • Easy for kids or older individuals to bite through


Cons

  • No flavor
  • Becomes soggy very easily


Waffle Cone

Pros

  • The tastiest material of the three cones
  • Only cone option that can be freshly made
  • Superlative crunch


Cons

  • Cone-to-ice cream ratio disproportionately leans cone (unless you're into that)
  • Too much ice cream (unless you're into that)
  • Lesser waffle artists may under/overcook the cone
  • Rare to find an ice cream shop that makes their own waffle cone
  • Most expensive option

Despite waffle cones containing the most in the "con" column, the positives greatly outweigh the negatives. It's especially true if you can find an ice cream shop that makes waffle cones fresh.

The argument is over: Waffle cones are the clear winner. Retire the trophy.

Am I wrong?

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Photo: Amy Stocklein Images, GMVozd/Getty Images