A History of the Ice Cream Sundae

How can it be that the origin of a modern dessert is shrouded in so much mystery and myth? In the UK, this all seems very distant and fantastical, but it is true the dish arose from an American religious objection to the serving of ice cream sodas on a Sunday. So, like ten-pin bowling, the sundae originates with the Puritans.

The town is Evanston (or just possibly somewhere else). The date is sometime in the late 1800s. Many people in local communities were deeply religious. In some areas, it was not considered appropriate to offer luxurious sodas on the Christian sabbath, and some towns even had local laws prohibiting their sales. Lesser mortals might have quailed and complied, but some enterprising proprietors began offering sodas without the soda (i.e. Ice cream and toppings), referring to them as 'Sunday sodas', and neatly sidestepping the law.

All was not yet won, however. Many people took umbrage at the naming of such a luxurious food item after their holy day, and the wily businessmen changed the spelling to 'Sundae Soda', brilliantly overcoming the religious objection. The sundae was born.

As in so many myths and legends, the origin and truth of this are subject to a certain amount of hearsay. The town of origin is hotly disputed - some claim that Ithaca may have served sundaes as early as 1897, Wisconsin claims to have created the first in 1881 in Two Rivers, but there are, of course, detractors. Whatever the truth, all ice cream lovers are delighted that some anonymous individual created this dish, which has now spread worldwide (or at least, as far as England)!

One source certainly places the sundae dish in Wisconsin - a glassware salesman ordered some long, canoe-shaped dishes from his company to be used for the dish, called them the 'sundae dishes', and another legend is born.

The famed C.C. Brown sundae is made with French vanilla ice cream, chopped roasted almonds,whipped cream, served with hot fudge sauce. Typical of the breed, is is the archetypal dessert. The variations are enormous, limited only by the imagination. Fresh fruits, nuts, chocolate, sauces by the score - the variety is endless. Scoop, sprinkle, pour. Laugh and grow fat!


Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.