One of America’s Favorites – Sundae

June 27, 2016 at 5:06 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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A strawberry sundae

A strawberry sundae

The sundae (pronunciation: /ˈsʌndeɪ, ˈsʌndi/) is a sweet ice cream dessert. It typically consists of one or more scoops of ice cream topped with sauce or syrup, and in some cases other toppings including sprinkles, whipped cream, peanuts, maraschino cherries, or other fruits (e.g., bananas and pineapple in a banana split.).

 

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the origin of the term sundae is obscure; however, it is generally accepted that the spelling “sundae” derives from the English word “Sunday”.

 

 

 

 

A chocolate sundae served in a shot glass

A chocolate sundae served in a shot glass

Among the many stories about the invention of the sundae, a frequent theme is that the ice cream sundae was a variation of the popular ice cream soda. According to documentation published by the Evanston Public Library (Illinois), the drinking of soda was outlawed on Sundays in Illinois.

Other origin stories for the sundae focus on the novelty or inventiveness of the treat or the name of the originator, and make no mention of legal pressures.

Ice cream sundae soon became the weekend semi-official soda fountain confection in the beginning of 1900s and

quickly gained popularity. The Ice Cream Trade Journal for 1909 along with plain, or French sundae, listed such exotic varieties as Robin Hood sundae, Cocoa Caramel sundae, Black Hawk sundae, Angel Cake sundae, Cherry Dip sundae, Cinnamon Peak sundae, Opera sundae, Fleur D’Orange sundae, Knickerbocker sundae, Tally-Ho Sundae, Bismarck and George Washington sundaes, to name a few.

 
Various localities have claimed to be the birthplace of the ice cream sundae, including Two Rivers, Wisconsin; Plainfield, Illinois; Evanston, Illinois; New York City; New Orleans, Louisiana; Ithaca, New York; Cleveland, Ohio; and Buffalo, New York.

 
Two Rivers, Wisconsin in 1881
Two Rivers’ claim is based on the story of George Hallauer asking Edward C. Berners, the owner of Berners’ Soda Fountain, to drizzle chocolate syrup over ice cream in 1881. Berners eventually did and wound up selling the treat for a nickel, originally only on Sundays, but later every day. According to this story, the spelling changed when a glass salesman ordered canoe-shaped dishes. When Berners died in 1939, the Chicago Tribune headlined his obituary “Man Who Made First Ice Cream Sundae Is Dead”. Two Ithaca High School students, however, claim that Berners would have only been 16 or 17 in 1881, so it is therefore “improbable” that he would have owned an ice cream shop in that year. They also state that the obituary dates Berners’ first sundae to 1899 rather than 1881.

Residents of Two Rivers have contested the claims of other cities to the right to claim the title “birthplace of the ice cream sundae”. When Ithaca, New York, mayor Carolyn K. Peterson proclaimed a day to celebrate her city as the birthplace of the sundae, she received postcards from Two Rivers’ citizens reiterating that town’s claim.

 

Evanston, Illinois in 1890
Evanston was one of the first locations to pass a blue law against selling ice cream sodas in 1890. “Some ingenious confectioners and drug store operators [in Evanston]… obeying the law, served ice cream with the syrup of your choice without the soda [on Sundays]. Thereby complying with the law… This sodaless soda was the Sunday soda.” As sales of the dessert continued on Mondays, local Methodist leaders then objected to naming the dish after the Sabbath, so the spelling of the name was changed to sundae.

 
Ithaca, New York in 1892
Supporting Ithaca’s claim to be “the birthplace of the ice cream sundae”, researchers at The History Center in Tompkins County, New York, provide an account of how the sundae came to be: On Sunday, April 3, 1892, in Ithaca, John M. Scott, a Unitarian Church minister, and Chester Platt, co-owner of Platt & Colt Pharmacy, created the first historically documented sundae. Platt covered dishes of ice cream with cherry syrup and candied cherries on a whim. The men named the dish “Cherry Sunday” in honor of the day it was created. The oldest-known written evidence of a sundae is Platt & Colt’s newspaper ad for a “Cherry Sunday” placed in the Ithaca Daily Journal on April 5, 1892. By May 1892, the Platt & Colt soda fountain also served “Strawberry Sundays” and later, “Chocolate Sundays”.

Platt & Colt’s “Sundays” grew so popular that by 1894, Chester Platt attempted to trademark the term ice cream “Sunday”.

 
Plainfield, Illinois
Plainfield, Illinois has also claimed to be the home of the very first ice cream sundae. A local belief is that a Plainfield druggist named Mr. Sonntag created the dish “after the urgings of patrons to serve something different.” He named it the “sonntag” after himself, and since Sonntag means Sunday in German, the name was translated to Sunday, and later was spelled sundae. Charles Sonntag established himself as a pharmacist after graduating from pharmacy school in 1890. He worked for several years under the employ of two local druggists, Dr. David W. Jump and F. R. Tobias. Sonntag established his own pharmacy (as early as 1893 and no later than 1895) in a building constructed in the months following a December 1891 fire that devastated one side of the town’s business district. His store advertised “Sonntag’s Famous Soda” and was, likely, the first soda fountain in the Village of Plainfield.

 

 

The original sundae consists of vanilla ice cream topped with whipped cream and a maraschino cherry

The original sundae consists of vanilla ice cream topped with whipped cream and a maraschino cherry

The original sundae consists of vanilla ice cream topped with a flavored sauce or syrup, whipped cream, and a maraschino cherry. Classic sundaes are typically named after the canned or bottled flavored syrup employed in the recipe: cherry sundae, chocolate sundae, strawberry sundae, raspberry sundae, etc. The classic sundae is traditionally served in a tulip-shaped, footed glass vase. Due to the long association between the shape of the glass and the dessert, this style of serving dish is generally now known as a sundae glass.

 

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