Pick your favorite ice cream cones in this scoop-tacular taste test.
Today, you and your friends or family are going to practice being professional tasters. You’ll taste different brands of ice cream cones and determine which one is your winner by rating them based on their flavor, their texture, and how well they work to contain and support a scoop of ice cream (their function).
Before you start tasting, take a minute to think about the ice cream cones you’ve eaten in the past.
Ask an adult—or a friend or family member—to be the “Tasting Organizer.” This is an important job! They will be in charge of setting up the tasting. The Tasting Organizer should: 1. Assign each brand of ice cream cones a number. 2. Write down the numbers and the brand names on a separate piece of paper to keep track of them.
Meanwhile, each taster needs 1 sheet of blank paper. Using a marker or pen, divide the paper into the same number of sections as ice cream cone samples you’ll be tasting. Label the sections “Sample 1,” “Sample 2,” “Sample 3,” and so on, depending on how many samples you have.
Make sure each person has a glass of water and 2 crackers or a slice of sandwich bread—these are to help cleanse your palate in between tastes.
Next, the Tasting Organizer should break 1 to 2 cones from each brand into large pieces (you’ll need enough large pieces so that each taster gets 3 pieces from each brand). Then, they should lay out the pieces of ice cream cone on each taster’s sheet of paper, placing 3 pieces of the first brand in section 1, 3 pieces of the second brand in section 2, and 3 pieces of the third brand in section 3.
Give each person a copy of the Tasting and Testing Ice Cream Cones scoring sheet to keep track of tasting notes.
Time to taste! First, you’ll taste the ice cream cones plain (without ice cream).
Now, taste each sample with a bite of ice cream. Give each taster a small scoop of ice cream in a small bowl and a spoon. Eat each of your remaining ice cream cone samples with a bite of ice cream (see why we had you save one of each sample?).
Give each sample a Flavor Score and a Texture Score, based on what you thought of its flavor and texture. Remember: A higher score means you liked it more!
Next, test the function of each cone as a whole group. Use an ice cream scoop to place 2 scoops of ice cream in 1 cone from each of the 3 brands. You will have 3 cones total. The Tasting Organizer should keep track of which cone belongs to each brand. Have volunteers hold the cones over paper towels for 3 minutes (set a timer!). Everyone should observe to see if any ice cream leaks out of the cones. No eating yet!
You can start eating the ice cream cones as you give each cone a Function Score based on your observations, starting with Sample 1. Think about:
Calculate the Overall Score for each ice cream cone by adding your Flavor, Texture, and Function Scores.
Time to pick a winner! Which of your samples had the highest Overall Score? That’s your winning ice cream cone. Look at the key (made by the Tasting Organizer) to see which brand matches your winning sample.
Now that you’ve locked down your favorite (and least favorite) ice cream cones, see if your flavor, texture, and function observations match up with what it says on the packaging. For example:
Did one sample of ice cream cone taste sweeter than the others? Look at how many grams of sugar it has on the nutrition label and compare that to the other ice cream cone samples. Did the cones with the most sugar taste the sweetest?
Did any of the cones taste like vanilla or another flavor? Take a look at the ingredient list (usually below the nutrition label) and see if you can find the ingredient whose flavor you tasted.
When you opened the different boxes, did you notice how the ice cream cones were packaged? Ice cream cones are pretty fragile—they can break pretty easily. Was there any protective packaging, such as cardboard or foam casing to help keep the cones from breaking?
If you were going to reinvent a way to package ice cream cones, what would your design look like? What materials would you use?
For a long time, historians thought that ice cream cones were invented in 1904 at the St. Louis World’s Fair: An ice cream vendor ran out of paper containers, so he started using the waffle-like treats his neighbor was selling to hold his ice cream.
Well, it turns out that’s probably not the first instance of an ice cream cone. In fact, food historians aren’t 100 percent sure when ice cream cones first appeared on the scene. A horn-shaped wafer filled with ice cream, called a cornet, was served in Paris in the 1800s, and there is evidence of wafer desserts dating back to the Middle Ages.
The world may never know the true origin story of ice cream cones, but we do know that they’re the perfect summer (or anytime) dessert!