In August 1910, the Nebraska State Journal gleefully reported a record-breaking raid by US Marshals in Omaha. The confiscated goods? 185,000 ice cream cones.
Ice cream cones, one of the few joys of summer available before air conditioning, became popular during the first decade of the twentieth century. Although the origin is unclear, many Americans ate their first ice cream cones in St. Louis in 1904 at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. They were certainly popular in the summer of 1910, when Nebraskans must have been startled to learn that a large number of baked cones had been seized in Omaha at the request of a federal food and drug inspector, who suspected that they were contaminated with boric acid.
The Nebraska State Journal (Lincoln) on August 14, 1910, said: “Seizure of 185,800 ice cream cones was made in Omaha this morning by United States Deputy Marshal Haze under the direction and at the request of Henry B. Evans, federal food and drug inspector. [A Federal Food and Drugs Act with regulatory powers was passed in 1906.] The charge is made that the cones contain boric acid, an adulterant and alleged by the department of agriculture to be a harmful poison in food stuffs.”
With a touch of pride, the Journal noted: “This is the largest single seizure of cones ever made, the total bulk amounting to more than half a carload. Previous to this time the record seizure was made in New York city, the number of cones in that case being 102,000.
“The seized cones were the property of the Waterloo Creamery company, and were manufactured and shipped here by the Star Wafer company of Oklahoma City. Inspector Evans has been on the track of the latter concern for some time. He came here Wednesday and purchased samples of the cones for analysis. As soon as the presence of boric acid was detected he secured an order from Judge T. C. Munger for the seizure of the cones, and called upon Deputy Marshal Haze to make the confiscation.
“Most of the cones, 181,000 of them, were stored in the Kennedy & Morrison warehouse. The remainder, 4,800 in number, were at the plant of the Waterloo Creamery company.
“These cones are included in the same consignment as those which were condemned by City Health Commissioner Connell. Dr. Connell just a day or two ago had a letter from the Star Wafer company, saying that the cones had been ordered shipped back to the factory and that its product would be [with]drawn from Omaha.” However, the queasy must have noted that Waterloo Creamery officials stated that “the health commissioner had given them permission to use up what cones they had on hand, on their promise that no more of the same character would be brought here.”