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I know the basic rules for the blessings on food, but I’m often stumped when dealing with mixtures. One of my kids wanted to know the blessing (bracha) on an ice cream cone. Does one make a blessing on the ice cream (she’hakol nihiyeh bi’dvaro), the cone (borei minei mezonot), or on both? It’s too late for this time – the cone is long gone – but for the future, please tell me how I should respond.
The laws of mixtures of food can get quite complex. In any given situation, there are two issues to consider: (a) Do we look at all the ingredients as a single food or unit – requiring only a single blessing? (b) If the foods are a unit, which is the primary ingredient? As we’ll see, both issues are relevant to an ice cream cone.
Looking at the second issue first, when we have a mixture, we generally make the blessing on the main ingredient. “Main” sometimes means the most important ingredient of the mixture – such as the cracker over the jam or the salad over the dressing. Sometimes, however, we look at percentages and recite the blessing on the majority ingredient – such as the melon in a fruit cup containing 70% melon and 30% apples.
Grain products are an exception to this because of the centrality of grain to a typical meal. (Jewish law recognizes five such grains – wheat, barley, oats, rye, and spelt.) Grain products are almost always considered primary – unless they are clearly serving in a subservient manner – such as a thickening agent to hold together a cooked dish or as a thin coating on cutlets (Shulchan Aruch 208:2, Mishnah Berurah 8).
Regarding the first issue – when are two items considered mixed, there are two ways in which items combine: (a) by being physically mixed together in small pieces (so that you will get some of the main ingredient in most bites) (Aruch HaShulchan 212:2), or (b) by being cooked together, such as an apple pie (Shulchan Aruch 208:2).
Putting all of the above together, since the ice cream and the cone are not cooked together and you will typically eat a lot of the ice cream before you get to the cone, two blessings are recited on it – shehakol on the ice cream and mezonot when you get to the cone.
One exception would be a tasteless cone whose only function is to make it possible to hold the ice cream. On that you would make no blessing at all since it is clearly secondary to the ice cream. When I was growing up, we were always told to order a “sugar cone” with our ice cream. I never asked why because it tasted better anyway, but I assume it was to avoid this situation.