A History of the Cornucopia

What does this “horn of plenty,” mushrooms, and ice cream have in common? More than you would think…


Derived from the Latin “cornu” meaning horn, and “copia” meaning plenty, the cornucopia has long been used as a common harvest symbol associated with a plentiful bounty.

Historically, a real goat’s horn, filled with fruits and grains, was depicted at the center of lavish tables of food. As well, many Ancient Greek gods and goddesses, like Fortuna and Demeter, have been portrayed holding cornucopias.

How did the association between a horn and plenty come to be? Greek legend says that Amalthea, a goat—and Zeus’ “foster” mother, accidentally broke off one of her horns. Zeus felt terrible for her, and so he promised that the horn would always bring her what she wants.

But did you know that there is also a cornucopia-shaped mushroom? Craterellus cornucopiodes—commonly known as the Black Trumpet mushroom—was named this because of its horn-like shape.

The symbol of the cornucopia was also used, along with rolling fields of grain, to lure new settlers to come to the New World.

Most interestingly, at the 1904 St. Louis World’s fair, the first waffle cone was referred to as the “World’s Fair Cornucopia,” also because of its cone-like shape. A fitting name, as waffle cones are quite big—cones of plentiful ice cream, indeed.

Click here for A History of the Cornucopia Slideshow.


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