• Dr. Thom

Life Planning and the Invention of the Ice Cream Cone


Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

At the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, a Syrian confectioner named Ernest Hamwi was busy selling a thin version of a waffle-like pastry called a zalabis. At the stand next to him, a vendor was selling ice cream, until he ran out of containers or cups for the ice cream. Thinking quickly on his feet, Hamwi rolled a zalabis into a cone shape and handed it to the ice cream vendor to fill with ice cream, popularizing for the first time what would go on to be the standard way that most ice cream is served today. Hamwi though would go on to create the Missouri Cone Company in 1910 utilizing new machinery which had been created to support the growing ice cream cone industry, and the rest is . . . well you know.


Innovation born from necessity in the moment, created by entrepreneurial individuals, responding to unexpected demand from a public that didn’t even know they wanted it, until they did.


We often think about our lives as planned out - built like a house following exact plans and blueprints. And why not? There is some peace that comes from setting goals and achieving them. But along the way, let’s not ignore the learning that occurs through happenstance.


The chance conversation over coffee with a friend who recommends you take a sociology class with her, which leads to you changing your major because you loved it so much. The roommate you are randomly matched with is from a coastal town in Portugal whose glowing stories of home lead you to study abroad in Lisbon and an eventual minor in Portuguese. You happen to meet a friend of your family at a holiday gathering who tells you about his job as an audio architect, someone who specializes in building spaces optimized for the production and recording of sound, a job that you had no idea even existed before then, and which you are now exploring as a potential college major.


Do not worry for one single second that you don’t know what you want to do with your future. Maybe you just need time to experience more chance encounters and learning. More patience helps a lot too. Sure, work on plans and goals, but just know there is a sweet (as ice cream) spot to be found between planning a life and being open to the experiences you stumble across while living that life.


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