Regular two-scoop ice cream sundaes are for amateurs. In Chicago, they double that and add one more for good measure. At least that’s what they do at the Original Rainbow Cone in Beverly, one of the city’s most historic sweet spots. Opened in 1926, Rainbow Cone is the branchild of Joseph Sapp, a former Buick mechanic. Sapp, who grew up in an orphan work camp, made a bet that the area around 92nd and Western–where he opened his first store–would grow into a flourishing commercial district. With his wife, Katherine, they developed their namesake, multi-level cone, and business has been booming ever since. Drop by their “new” shop at 9233 South Western Avenue with your family and enjoy the sweetest history lesson the city has to offer.
As you approach this Chicago legend, your kids jump around in excitement at the sight of the bubblegum-pink building. On the roof, a giant ice cream cone beckons to you like the torch-wielding hand of Lady Liberty. Pastel-painted bricks line the doorway and serve as your welcome to the whimsical, Candy Land-like world.
As soon as you have your original rainbow cone, you know you’ve stumbled upon something special. Five stories of handmade ice cream flavors are piled high on a scrumptious sugar cone, which is somehow, miraculously, large enough to hold them all in place. Chocolate serves as the base. Then come layers of strawberry, Palmer House (New York vanilla with cherries and walnuts), and pistachio. Finally, there’s a good glob of orange sherbet to finish it off.
When your little ones grasp the cones in their small hands, it looks more like a dessert fit for giants than anything else. Settle yourselves on the parlor’s outdoor patio, where the Chicago sun is warm on your skin — and your ice cream. Your family tries every tactic in the book to keep the slowly melting ice cream from dribbling down the side of the cone — chocolate first, sherbet last, or getting a taste of the whole rainbow in one swoop — but it’s a game against the clock. The secret weapon? Napkins. Lots of napkins.