May 1, 2018

Rainbow Cone

Rainbow Cone founder Joseph Sapp grew up an orphan on an Ohio work farm. A rare luxury was ice cream he bought with the pennies he earned, but his only choices were vanilla or chocolate. Sapp wanted those flavors--and more.

He worked as a Buick mechanic to earn the money to start Original Rainbow in 1926 with his wife, Katherine. After many variations, they eventually settled on the winning flavor combo of chocolate, strawberry, Palmer House, pistachio and orange sherbet.

The Sapps chose the location at 92nd and Western because it was on the way home from the cemeteries south of 95th Street that families visited on Sundays. He thought people would stop in for a treat on their way home, and he was right.

During World War II, Sapp brought in customers by setting up a short wave radio that broadcast music and war-related programming for people to hear while they ate their ice cream.

Joseph's granddaughter, Lynn, took over the business in 1986. She took Rainbow Cone beyond the South Side by participating in the world's largest food festival, the Taste of Chicago, for 30 years.

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