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Cone-ing is a prank video fad that involves ordering an ice cream cone at a fast food drive-through and grabbing it by the soft ice cream end instead of the cone as the server hands it over. Along with the drive-through attendant’s shocked or bewildered reaction, the entire process is captured on video camera to be shared online. The prank quickly caught on with teenagers in early June 2011, shortly after the viral breakout of Planking and its spin-off photo fads.
On May 18th, 2009, Australian comedian Alki Stevens uploaded a video (shown below, left) containing a series of pranks and stunts he and his friends had done in public, such as ordering at a drive-through while wearing a mask and purposefully falling while carrying a tray full of food inside a fast food restaurant. In one scene, Stevens is shown pulling up to a drive-through window, where the server hands him a soft-serve ice cream cone. With a straight face, Stevens grabs it by the ice cream and drives away.
Just under a year later, Stevens uploaded a second video featuring several more instances of cone-ing. However, the fad did not take off until he uploaded a third video titled “CONE-ING IS THE NEW PLANKING” (shown above, right) on June 5th, 2011. As of October 2012, this video has more than 9.1 million views and more than 923,000 combined Twitter and Facebook shares.
On June 7th, 2011, The Daily What, Buzzfeed, Blame It On The Voices, Videogum and food blog Eater all reposted the “Cone-ing is the new Planking” video. The same day, Seattle resident Nolan Harris uploaded the first cone-ing video outside of Stevens’ work.
Within the first week, Stevens’ video was shared by a variety of internet culture blogs and news sites including BroBible, Best Week Ever, Geekosystem, Uproxx, the Huffington Post, the Tosh.0 blog, Neatorama, OC Weekly, Gawker, ABC News, and NPR. On June 9th, Stevens created a Facebook fan page for the fad, which has more than 29,000 likes as of October 2012. On July 29th, Justin Bieber tweeted a video of himself going cone-ing, which has been retweeted more than 24,000 times.
On YouTube, there are approximately 12,000 video results for the search keyword “coneing” as of October 2012. The original prankster Alki Stevens has since uploaded 38 cone-ing videos to his official YouTube channel, mixing compilations of user submitted videos as well as footage of himself. Additional videos can be found on Tumblr and Twitter with the hashtag #coneing.
In June 2014, the meme saw a resurgence with its own twist in Chinese and Taiwan after YouTuber Apple Jai uploaded a video of a customer at a fast food restaurant picking up his order of an ice cream cone by the soft end and walking away from the register. In less than a month, the video garnered more than 2 million views and even some news media coverage in Taiwan.
The “dine-in” edition of cone-ing soon became known as the “Clutch Cone” (手抓甜筒) on the Chinese-speaking web and spawned dozens of videos depicting copycat attempts on Facebook and Weibo. By July 10th, the phenomenon had been covered by a number of local news sites, including CNHuadong, XinhuaNet and Gamme, followed by the first foreign news coverage from Kotaku on the next day.
Best Week Ever – Cone-ing Is Definitely Better Than Planking, By Far / 6/8/2011
f26. Kotaku – China and Taiwan Are Now into a Really Old Meme