National Ice Cream Sundae Day

November 11 is Veterans Day in the USA and I’d like to give a shout out to all living veterans and I hope we remember those veterans who have already passed on. I am a proud spouse of a 20-year veteran of the United States Navy and I will always consider the military as my family. There will be promotions from food establishments, my favorite being Baskin Robbins “First Class Camouflage” ice cream.


Speaking of ice cream, today is also National Sundae Day. When I was a little girl, my dad took me to a restaurant called The Village and I knew that I was in for a treat. He always ordered a banana split sundae (extra cherries) for me. Even while sitting on the bar stool, my elbows barely reached the counter but I still managed to devour that ice cream. When I got older, my mom took us to Magnolia, a restaurant owned by the leading ice cream manufacturer in the Philippines. I used to wonder why my sister took forever to eat hers, the ice cream melting and dripping down the sides of her dish. At around ten years old, I could eat two (!) sundaes in one sitting. I had no favorites because I would eat anything.

I often wondered why sundaes were called as such. It was only as an adult that I discovered that it had a hotly contested history. Three cities claim to have invented the ice cream concoction: Two Rivers (WI), Evanston (IL), and Ithaca (NY). According to the account from Two Rivers, in 1881 Edward Berners, a druggist, served a sundae when a customer ordered an ice cream soda. (For those not familiar with the Victorian era, drugstores also functioned as snack bars.) So as not to lose his business, he gave him ice cream in a dish and topped it with chocolate syrup. Those who dispute the story say that it’s unlikely because Berners would only have been 18 years in 1881. At the time, ice cream sodas were prohibited on Sundays (what-what?). It’s because of “Blue Laws” which said that ice cream sodas could not be sold on Sundays because they were “frilly.” The moral majority were very much scandalized by what they called “sucking soda” (dirty minded people!).

In the Midwest, where Evanston is located, a similar law was passed around the year 1890, which prohibited the selling of soda water on a Sunday. So soda fountain owners resorted to selling ice cream sodas minus the soda, which left just the ice cream and syrup. Another anecdotal story comes from Ithaca. After church one Sunday in 1892, Chester Platt, owner of Platt and Colt Pharmacy, and Rev. John M. Scott stopped at the pharmacy for some ice cream and it was purported that Mr. Platt served up scoops of vanilla ice cream topped with cherry syrup and a candied cherry. The good reverend named the dish after the day. This claim to fame is evidenced by an advertisement below.


One might wonder how “Sunday” became “sundae.” Some historians theorize that the “y” was changed to “e” because of the Blue Laws as well. The dish has been renamed various names at different times, i.e. “sundi” and “sondhi.” These were attempts to avoid desecrating the Sabbath and offending the devout who didn’t think naming the treat after the holiest day of the week was appropriate. As recently as 2007, the dispute over who invented the sundae was still ongoing albeit friendly. Today, ice cream sundaes come in a multitude of flavor combinations and toppings.Whatever it’s called, there’s something we can all agree to – it’s delicious!



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