In this Food Non-Fiction podcast episode, we look into the origins of the ice cream sundae. About a dozen towns claim to be the birthplace of the ice cream sundae, but there are 3 main contenders that are always mentioned. By chronological order, we share the stories from 1. Two Rivers, Wisconsin in 1881, 2. Evanston, Illinois in 1890 and 3. Ithaca, New York in 1892.
In Two Rivers, the ice cream sundae was created when a man named George Hallauer asked for chocolate syrup on top of his ice cream. The Berners' Soda Fountain owner, Edward C. Berners, obliged.
In Evanston Illinois, the passing of the Blue Law prevented people from consuming soda water, because it was considered too frivolous. That meant that people also couldn't buy ice cream sodas, which were already invented. So one inventive pharmacist. Mr. Garwood, who had a thriving business in ice cream sodas, removed the soda water from the ice cream treat, calling it a "Sunday soda". The name was later shortened and the spelling was changed to be more respectable of the lord's day. So it became known as the "sundae".
In Ithaca, New York, the first sundae was created at Platt & Colt Pharmacy. The pharmacy's co-owner, Chester Platt, often got together with the pastor, John M. Scott, from the Unitarian Church after services. One day, when the two were together, he served up ice cream with cherry sauce and they loved it so much that they named it Cherry Sunday after the flavor and the day of the week.
We present the evidence for each and you can decide which story you want to believe.
Sundae Fight Song lyrics:
In Two Rivers, in Winsconsin,
History was made.
And our pride in that first sundae,
it will never fade.
Made right here by old Ed Berners
Now we celebrate that sundae
And have lots of fun
Others try to claim the sundae
started in their towns
But the story of our sundae
turns their smiles to frowns
Evanston and Ithaca,
They are among the worst,
but confronted with our facts,
Concede that Ed was first.
Topped with chocolate, or with cherries and with lots of nuts
Try to claim our sundae
and we’ll kick you in your butts!
On Two Rivers! On Wisconsin.
It’s with pride we burst
as we shout out to the whole world
Ed was first!
Two Rivers, Puh-leeze lyrics:
Two Rivers, why live in denial,
The story you compile, won't play.
Your sign maker, a truth faker,
without sundae proof your claim's melting away.
Ed Berners off to fool the world.
There's such a lot of fools you see.
Though sometimes the truth may offend-
still you can pretend,
my sweet Wisconsin friend,
Special thanks to:
Ithaca recording artists, "Rock Beats Paper"
Arrangement: Robert Dietz
Engineering: James Cannon/Panic Room Studios
Music Thanks to Looperman Artist:
1950s Rock N Roll Piano Riff by rasputin1963
Special Thanks to our Interviewees:
Eden Juron Pearlman - Executive Director of the Evanston Historical Center in Evanston Illinois
Bruce Stoff - Director of Ithaca/Tompkins Convention & Visitors Bureau
Gregory Buckley - Two Rivers City Manager
Ron LaQuaglia - Owner of Glenburn Soda Fountain and Confectionery
Book: A Month of Sundaes by Michael Turback