It may not be clear who really invented the ice cream sundae, but there is no mistaking America’s love of them.
Ice cream sundaes are an old fashioned dessert that has maintained popularity throughout the decades. Just as they were enjoyed in soda fountains in the early 1900’s, Americans still love going out for ice cream sundaes. Tastes have changed over time and now we enjoy a variety of interesting toppings and flavors that go beyond the classic hot fudge and butterscotch.
Like most popular American foods, the exact origin of the ice cream sundae is not known. Many cities claim to the birthplace of the frozen treat, most of them taking place around the late 1800’s and often involving the dish first being made on Sunday. During this time some cities, states and counties had laws that stated ice cream sodas could not be served on Sunday. Some origin stories center around creative businessmen who got around the laws by making an ice cream sundae with syrups and sauces, rather than soda.
The city of Two Rivers, Wisconsin is reported to be the home of the first ice cream sundae. The city even has a historical marker that details the story of a customer who asked Edward C. Berner, the owner of a local soda fountain, for ice cream topped with the chocolate syrup used for sodas. It became a popular dish and was only served on Sundays. When a young girl asked for one on another day of the week, telling them to “pretend it was Sunday” the soda fountain began serving them every day. The spelling was changed to sundae after a glass salesman placed an order for the now iconic glass boats for serving and called them “sundae dishes.” Other cities that claim to be the true birthplace of the ice cream sundae include Evanston and Plainfield in Illinois, New York City, New Orleans, Cleveland, and Ithaca, New York.
You can honor the inventor, whoever he may be, with an ice cream sundae any day of the week at Gunther Toody’s in Denver.