FANWOOD, NJ -- National Ice Cream Cone Day seeks to draw attention to the invention of an important, yet sadly often overlooked, invention that allows people to enjoy a portable way to eat ice cream.

There is some debate as to who made the first ice cream cone. Italo Marchiony, an immigrant from Italy in the late 1800s, was granted a patent in December 1903, according to the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), which keeps track of such things.

More widely known is the story of the ice cream cone's introduction at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, where there were dozens of ice cream vendors and a number of waffle makers. Which individual gets the credit is still under dispute, according to the book, Everybody Loves Ice Cream by Shannon Jackson Arnold (Emmis Books, 2004).

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Best known is Ernest A. Hamwi, a Syrian concessionaire, who was selling a crisp, waffle-like pastry -- zalabis -- in a booth right next to an ice cream vendor at the World's Fair. The ice cream vendor had run out of dishes. Hamwi saw an easy solution to the problem: he rolled one of his thin waffles in the shape of a cone, or cornucopia. It cooled in a few seconds, and the vendor then put ice cream in the cone. The idea took off, and a great American tradition was born.

Locally, Rocko's Ice Cream (38 South Martine Ave., Fanwood) will celebrate National Ice Cream Cone Day by offering buy-one, get-one-free soft serve ice cream cones on Thursday, Sept. 22 from 12:00 Noon to 10:00 p.m.

"Everyone loves ice cream, but the cone is often forgotten. We wanted to celebrate the invention of the ice cream cone, have some fun, and give back a little to our customers," said Brandon Watterson, manager of Rocko's.

Editor's Note: Rocko's Ice Cream is an advertiser of TAPintoSPF and its marketing is handled by Over The Moon PR.