Happy autumnal equinox! This is one of the first autumns in a long time where it actually felt like fall on the first day of autumn: the weather is getting cooler, apples are abundantly in season, and I’m raring up for the changing leaves and the start of fall! (Usually I’m whining about all the nice summer weather being over!) But surprisingly, the first day of fall has a national food holiday that’s all about summer delights: it’s national Ice Cream Cone Day! While edible cones had been made out of waffles in France since 1825, it took a New Yorker to figure out in 1903 that the vessel was the perfect place to drop in a scoop of ice cream. The ice cream cone has been a super popular dessert ever since, the novel idea of making the vessel for your creamy, sweet ice cream also an edible treat delighting ice cream fans both young and old. The original ice cream cones were made from waffles, but now they can be made from wafers (also known as cake cones), sugar cones, and specialty cones–some of which you can snack on throughout the city today!
The most interesting new cone I’ve discovered while researching this national food holiday doesn’t come from an ice cream shop at all. The Soft Serve Fruit Co.’s mission is to make healthy, delicious frozen treats without using milk or other dairy products: their “soft serve fruit” it literally only made with fruit, water, and cane sugar, like a sorbet. This extra-fluffy iced dessert feels just like the airy soft-serve, but you get a huge punch of fruity flavor instead of milky blandness. Each fruit flavor served on a particular day is always seasonal and local–so you can bet that New York Apple soft serve season is in full swing! But the best thing about this place is their cones: they make a hand-rolled pretzel cone, full of that crunchy, crumbly pretzel texture you’re used to in a bag of Wise pretzel sticks, dot it with sea salt, and stick your sorbet right on top. It’s the great mix of salty and sweet that pleases the discerning taste buds. Definitely try this the next time you’re in Union Square for a healthy alternative to the Mister Softee truck that’s always idling around the square.
Soft Serve Fruit Co.
25 E 17th St (between W Union Sq & Broadway)
“There are so many ways to enjoy Soft Serve Fruit – each a completely unique experience. Order it in a cup to taste it in its yummiest, purest form. Try it blended into a smoothie, or as a sundae, smothered in your favorite toppings. Then, there’s the artisan pretzel cone. The sweetness of Soft Serve Fruit paired with salty, crunchy pretzel is an absolute must-try.”–New York Smash
“And if you like, you can cone it up — no ordinary cones these, I think I’d really enjoy my soft serve fruit in a pretzel cone (for another $1.75). Had I the room for more tasty fruit treats, yes, this is my next order from the good people there. I’m not a big fan of the frozen yogurt market, but soft serve fruit, in my neighborhood, reasonably priced? I’ll find myself stopping in here. It’s a pleasant little treat right on Third Avenue, and if the evening of this visit is any indication, it seems that the locals have found the place and enjoy it. They’re serving in the Hamptons for the summer, as well, but I’ll make do with the Soft Serve Fruit Co. a mere two blocks from my subway stop this summer.”–The Feisty Foodie
“The Soft Serve Fruit Co ™ offers all natural seasonal fruit varieties such as Banana, Mango, Strawberry and Pear (flavors change seasonally) and a large selection of Sundaes and Smoothies as well. They also have just introduced a gourmet Pretzel Cone which I’m sure kids and adults will enjoy! I got to taste all four flavors (banana was my favorite!) it was so delicious it’s hard to believe that all the varieties and flavors contain less than 90 calories per 3.5oz cup serving!”–The Infamous Life
“Yogurt it’s not, but a cup of the blueberry flavor with chocolate chips really hits the spot on a hot day. And those who are watching their waistlines will be glad to see nutrition facts posted in large type right on the wall. The Soft Serve Fruit Co also offers salted pretzel cones, which provide a savory counterbalance to the sweet main event. The atmosphere at the Union Square location is fruit-infused and tropical down to the last detail—signage, for example, is made from repurposed fruit crates.”–NYC.com
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“My new favorite summer treat is Soft Serve Fruit. Tasty and low-cal, they mash up fruit, strain out the chewy, seedy bits, add some sugar and some freezing air, and voila: an amazing dessert that clocks in under 90 calories for the kids serving. It’s just around the corner from Union Square, so it’s perfect for a day of sitting, chatting, and people watching. Personal favorite is the dark chocolate (which is really bananas blended with cacao nibs–so good) mixed with raspberry in a pretzel cone. A-MAZING.”–Allison S.
“This place rocks… Fresh fruit and dairy free soft serve. I read that it was low-cal as well (another plus). I only discovered the pretzel cones after I ordered. What an innovative idea to pair sweet and salty together with a pretzel cone. If anyone has tried it, holla!”–Anne H.
But what if you don’t feel like something out of the ordinary on National Ice Cream Cone Day? Fruit sorbet and pretzel cones just don’t sound as homey or comforting as full-fat ice cream and a waffle cone. And when a traditional craving like that comes along, why not satisfy it at a place that literally has “cones” in its name? Sundaes and Cones is known for their Asian-inspired ice cream flavors like Black Sesame, Red Bean, and Wasabi, as well as their over-the-top good classic Vanilla and Chocolate flavors. Their simple vanilla ice cream cone was featured in New York Magazine’s top 5 list back in 2006. But there’s nothing “simple” about their waffle cone: freshly baked daily on the premesis, the top of the large wraparound cone is coated in chocolate and toppings, like sprinkles and nuts. You can’t go wrong!
Sundaes and Cones
95 E 10th St (at 3rd Ave)
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“My girlfriend got a coated waffle cone with oreo and chocolate mocha ice cream. We still had some money left after that, so we split a large egg cream. I felt like a little kid with all these treats. The banana boat was great as expected. It’s kinda hard to have all of those things combined and have it not taste great. The oreo ice cream is amazing, definitely my favorite of the three. I thought the chocolate peanut butter could’ve used more peanut butter flavor, and the cherry vanilla was good, but i’d try something new next time. I couldn’t get the smile off my face after finishing this in about 5 minutes.”–John P.
“Get the waffle cone! The are very thin and soft, its really nice and easy to eat not think, tough and too crunchy like some can be. The have this super nifty little cone holder that saves you from ice cream drippings and cone breakage too.”–Angela K.
Make sure you check out the updated NYC Food Holidays Map to find this most recent holiday!