Ice cream shops are meant to inspire joy, but some customers feel anxious when they must commit to a flavor or two out of dozens. The Original Rainbow Cone addressed this problem almost a century ago with a five-flavor flight. A color and flavor spectrum erupts from the cone: chocolate brown, strawberry pink, vanilla beige, pistachio green, topped with orange sherbet. We should note that vanilla isn’t actually vanilla, but Palmer House. This nearly forgotten flavor is vanilla ice cream studded with walnuts and maraschino cherries. The Palmer House is a crucial layer because it imparts crunch and sundae dressing to the busy cone.
The construction and layering of the Rainbow Cone is part of its charm. Each patty shaped scoop is piled on top of the next to form a leaning tower of flavors. The sherbet hangs precariously to the side of the stack like an orange beret, capping off the rainbow. It achieves an abstract impressionist aesthetic that fine dining platings often attempt to capture, but rarely achieve. This is a creative cone, but one that was so visionary as to become timeless. It hasn’t changed a lick since 1926.
You shouldn’t get the child size. It is too small to build proper layers. Also, substitution or omission throws the whole thing out of harmony. Can you imagine a world without orange? Don’t even think about getting a cup. The reward at the end of the rainbow is a sugar cone soaked with five flavors. This isn’t a place to impose your preferences. Get the original, and nothing else.
The novelty of the Rainbow Cone would wear off after one visit if the ice cream weren’t great, but it is. It’s not salty, brownie-studded new-wave ice cream, but that old-fashioned creamy, artificially colored stuff. Flavors and textures are created for sheer delight, not for showing off.
If you want something different, get ice cream cake, which offers a different pattern of color and the chance to taste the vivid flavors of the rainbow more individually. The palette of the five ice cream flavors is suspended within a layer of feather light chocolate sponge, somewhat like a yule log. This cake might not provide the same nostalgic joy as a tall cone of ice cream, but it was just as delicious, and much neater to eat.