National Ice Cream Sundae Day

Young girl holding a dripping ice cream sundae, wearing a colorful sundress, sunny park setting..
National ice cream sundae day illustration

Ah, National Ice Cream Sundae Day, a glorious celebration of everyone's favorite frozen delight topped with a mountain of deliciousness. Get ready to scoop up some history and delve into the delightful world of ice cream sundaes!

When is Ice Cream Sundae Day?

It's national ice cream sundae day on the 11th November.

The Birth of the Ice Cream Sundae

Legend has it that the ice cream sundae was born out of necessity. See, once upon a time, back in the 1800s, it was considered inappropriate to enjoy ice cream on Sundays because it was considered a sinful pleasure. However, people just couldn't resist the temptation, and ice cream parlors faced with a moral dilemma came up with a clever solution.

They started serving ice cream with toppings on Sundays, but it wasn't just any ordinary day, it was Sunday. Hence the name 'sundae'. Isn't that a sweet way to get around the rules? Pun intended!

Building a Sundae-licious Creation

Now that we've uncovered the origins, let's dive into the art of building the perfect ice cream sundae. Grab your favorite flavor of ice cream, whether it's classic vanilla, decadent chocolate, or a swirl of both, because we're about to make your taste buds dance.

First, prepare your vessel of choice, whether it's a traditional glass or a reliable waffle cone. Fill it up with a generous helping of your chosen ice cream, and now it's time for the magic to happen.

Add your favorite toppings: hot fudge, caramel, sprinkles, nuts, whipped cream, cherries—the options are limited only by your imagination. Don't be shy; go all out and create a sundae masterpiece! Just be sure to dig in before it turns into a melting masterpiece instead.

Fun Fact: The World's Largest Sundae

Did you know that the world's largest ice cream sundae was created in 1988? This monstrous treat consisted of a whopping 4,667 gallons of ice cream, along with 7,000 pounds of toppings. It took a team of volunteers and an excavator to build this colossal sundae, which undoubtedly satisfied the sweet tooth of the entire town!

History behind the term 'Ice Cream Sundae'


The Birth of a Treat

The term 'ice cream sundae' originated in the late 19th century in the United States. It is believed that the first ice cream sundae was made in the year 1874 in Evanston, Illinois. At that time, ice cream sodas were a popular treat, but the local soda fountain owner, who adhered to the Sunday closing laws, came up with a clever idea to serve ice cream without violating the restrictions. He replaced the soda with syrup and thus created the very first ice cream sundae.


The Birth of the Ice Cream Sundae

In 1874, the term 'ice cream sundae' made its first appearance in the United States. The exact origin of the name is still debated, but it is believed to have emerged in the town of Evanston, Illinois. At that time, many Americans observed the Sabbath and refrained from eating candy or ice cream on Sundays. To accommodate these restrictions, a clever ice cream parlor owner started serving a dish consisting of ice cream topped with syrup and whipped cream on Sundays, hence the name 'sundae' spelling.


Origin of the term 'sundae'

The term 'sundae' is thought to have originated in Evanston, Illinois in 1874. At that time, laws in Evanston prohibited the sale of ice cream sodas on Sundays as they were considered too indulgent. In order to circumvent this law, a clever vendor started serving a dish consisting of ice cream topped with flavored syrup and a cherry on top, calling it a 'sundae' as a play on the word 'Sunday'.


Creation of Ice Cream Sundays

The term 'ice cream sundae' originated in the late 19th century when it was common practice for people to enjoy ice cream in soda fountains on Sundays. These soda fountains were popular gathering places where people could socialize and enjoy cool treats. However, some religious communities objected to the idea of having fun on the Sabbath, so the traditional ice cream soda was modified and renamed to 'ice cream sundae' to bypass the religious objections. The exact details of who created the first ice cream sundae are unclear, but it was a clever solution to accommodate everyone's beliefs.


Ice cream prohibition

In 1881, the town of Evanston, Illinois, banned the sale of soda on Sundays. This ban included the popular ice cream soda, which consisted of soda water, syrup, and ice cream. However, the prohibition didn't deter the locals from enjoying their sweet treat.


Soda Fountain Ban

In 1874, the term 'sundae' was coined, but not in its ice cream context. At the time, 'sundae' referred to a type of soda fountain drink. Several US towns had passed laws banning the sale of sodas on Sundays, as they were considered inappropriate. Inspired by the name of the day, some soda fountain owners began serving a new drink made with soda water and syrup, but without the soda component. This drink eventually became known as a 'sundae'.


Ice Cream Addition

By 1890, the ice cream sundae had made its way onto the scene. In order to enhance their product, ice cream parlors started adding a scoop of ice cream to the traditional 'sundae' drink. It quickly caught on, and soon enough, the term 'sundae' became synonymous with a delightful dessert featuring ice cream, syrup, and various toppings.


Soda alternative

To bypass the soda ban and still satisfy their desire for a refreshing dessert, some ingenious ice cream parlor owners in Evanston began serving a new creation. They replaced the soda water with syrup and topped it with whipped cream, cherry, and other confectioneries. This delightful concoction became known as the 'Sunday', named after the day it was created, but eventually, the spelling changed to 'sundae' to avoid any religious connotations.


First documented appearance of Ice Cream Sundae

The first documented appearance of the term 'ice cream sundae' occurred in 1881. On Sunday, April 3rd of that year, the Ithaca Daily Journal in New York published an article advertising a local shop's new creation: the 'Cherry Sunday.' The spelling of 'Sunday' was deliberately changed to 'sundae' to emphasize the uniqueness of the dish. This event marks the first evidence of the term being used in print and signifies the beginning of its widespread popularity.


Introduction of nuts and whipped cream

In 1881, a shop in Ithaca, New York added a new twist to the classic sundae by introducing the use of nuts and whipped cream as toppings. This addition brought a new level of indulgence and flavor to the already beloved dessert.


Sunday or Sundae?

Initially, the treat was known as 'Sunday' to highlight its differentiation from the ice cream soda, which was associated with Sundays. However, to avoid offending religious sensibilities, the spelling was eventually changed to 'sundae.' This modification not only altered the name but also solidified the dessert's distinction from other ice cream concoctions.


Sundae vs. Sunday

In 1881, an article published in the Ithaca Daily Journal highlighted the spelling dilemma of the term 'sundae.' The author argued that changing the spelling to 'Sunday' would avoid any association with the Sabbath and make the treat more appealing. However, the proposed alternative spelling never gained widespread acceptance, and the original spelling of 'sundae' prevailed. As a result, the term became firmly established in the English language with its unique spelling.


Introduction of the hot fudge sauce

One significant development in the history of the ice cream sundae occurred around 1887 with the introduction of hot fudge sauce. Prior to this, the ice cream sundae was typically served with flavored syrups like fruit or chocolate. However, a confectioner named Clarence Clifton Brown invented a delicious hot fudge sauce that quickly became a favorite topping for ice cream sundaes. The addition of hot fudge brought a new level of indulgence and decadence to the treat, making it even more irresistible.


Prohibition on Sundays

The early 1900s saw a rise in the temperance movement and the eventual prohibition of alcohol in the United States. As a result, many people turned to non-alcoholic treats, like ice cream sundaes, for their indulgence. Due to religious concerns, some areas implemented 'Blue Laws' that prohibited the sale of ice cream sundaes on Sundays, in a similar vein to the original soda bans. However, this only added to the intrigue and desirability of the ice cream sundae.


Sundae Popularity Spreads

By the 1890s, the ice cream sundae had gained popularity across the United States. Soda fountains, ice cream parlors, and drugstores started offering the delightful treat to satisfy the growing demand. Various cities even held contests for the best sundae creations, further fueling its fame and encouraging experimentation with different flavors and toppings.


The Cherry on Top

By 1892, the ice cream sundae had gained popularity across the United States. It was during this year that the practice of adding a cherry on top of the sundae emerged. It is believed that the practice began at the Exposition Carnival held in Seneca Falls, New York. Vendors started garnishing their sundaes with a maraschino cherry to enhance the visual appeal of the treat. The addition of the cherry became a symbolic finishing touch, and it is now a common feature of ice cream sundaes everywhere.


Widespread popularity

By 1904, the ice cream sundae had gained widespread popularity and was being enjoyed in various parts of the United States. It became a favorite dessert served in soda fountains and ice cream parlors, delighting people with its combination of creamy ice cream, sweet syrup, and decadent toppings.


Standardization of spelling

By 1892, the term 'sundae' became widely popular, and different variations of the spelling emerged. To standardize the spelling, the National Association of Ice Cream Manufacturers declared that the correct spelling should be 's-u-n-d-a-e', which remains the accepted spelling to this day.

Early 20th century

Sundae Becomes Mainstream

During the early 20th century, the ice cream sundae became a mainstream dessert enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds. It became a symbol of indulgence, leisure, and celebration. Its versatility allowed for endless variations, making it a beloved treat for ice cream enthusiasts worldwide.


Introduction of the cherry on top

The iconic cherry on top of the ice cream sundae was introduced in 1904 at a World's Fair held in St. Louis, Missouri. It added a visually appealing touch to the dessert, making it even more enticing to customers.


Sundae Variations and Innovations

In 1904, various sundae variations and innovations were introduced. Ice cream parlors began experimenting with new toppings, such as chocolate sauce, caramel, nuts, and sprinkles, to create unique flavor combinations. The classic banana split sundae was also invented during this time, featuring three scoops of ice cream, sliced bananas, different sauces, and toppings. These innovations marked an exciting period for the ice cream sundae, solidifying its status as a beloved dessert choice.


Sundae variations

During the 1920s, the ice cream sundae continued to evolve, with different variations being created to cater to various tastes. Some popular variations included the hot fudge sundae, caramel sundae, banana split, and many more. The creativity and versatility of the sundae allowed it to adapt to different flavor trends and preferences.


Variety and Creativity

During the 1920s, the ice cream sundae continued to gain popularity, and the dessert took on a new level of variety and creativity. Ice cream parlors began experimenting with different flavored syrups, toppings, and garnishes to create unique and enticing sundaes. This era witnessed the birth of classics like the hot fudge sundae and the banana split, which have remained beloved favorites to this day.


Creation of the banana split

In 1904, a druggist named David Evans Strickler in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, took the ice cream sundae to a whole new level by creating the iconic banana split. Legend has it that Strickler was seeking to attract more customers to his soda fountain and decided to experiment with different toppings and arrangements. He chose a split banana as the base and added three different flavors of ice cream, various sauces, whipped cream, and a cherry on top. The banana split quickly gained popularity and became a classic dessert enjoyed by people around the world.


Official recognition

In 1939, National Ice Cream Retailers Association declared the third Sunday in July as 'National Ice Cream Sundae Day.' This recognition further solidified the sundae's place in American dessert culture and celebrated the joy it brings to people of all ages. Since then, every year, ice cream lovers across the country celebrate this delicious treat on its dedicated day.

20th Century to Present

Continued Popularity and Modern Varieties

Since the early 20th century, the ice cream sundae has remained a favorite dessert worldwide. The concept has continued to evolve, with endless variations and modern adaptations. Today, you can find sundaes with unique flavors, extravagant presentations, and even savory components. The popularity of the ice cream sundae has sparked the creation of National Ice Cream Sundae Day, celebrated annually on July 7th, to honor this delightful dessert and its rich history.


Commercialization and widespread popularity

By the 1940s, ice cream sundaes had become an integral part of American culture. They were served in ice cream parlors, diners, and restaurants across the country. The commercialization of ice cream sundaes led to endless variations and creative interpretations. From classic combinations like hot fudge with nuts and a cherry to innovative modern sundaes with unique flavors and toppings, this beloved dessert continues to evolve and delight taste buds worldwide.


Expansion of sundae varieties

In the 1920s, the popularity of sundaes skyrocketed, leading to a wide variety of flavors and toppings. Sundaes were no longer limited to chocolate or vanilla ice cream; now, there were fruit sundaes, caramel sundaes, and even hot fudge sundaes. This expansion of choices made the sundae a versatile and customizable treat.


Continued Popularity and Innovation

To this day, the ice cream sundae remains a beloved dessert option. It has continuously evolved with new flavors, creative toppings, and inventive presentations. From classic favorites like hot fudge and whipped cream to unique combinations like candied bacon and lavender-infused ice cream, the sundae continues to inspire creativity and satisfy sweet cravings all around the world.


Mass Production and Commercial Success

In the 1930s, ice cream sundae production saw a shift to mass production and commercial success. Ice cream manufacturers started producing pre-packaged sundae components, such as individual servings of ice cream, toppings, and sauces. This made it easier for people to enjoy sundaes at home or at ice cream parlors, further solidifying the ice cream sundae's place in American culinary culture.


Creation of the 'Banana Split Sundae'

One of the most famous variations of the sundae, the 'Banana Split Sundae', was created in 1953 by an apprentice pharmacist named David Evans Strickler. He experimented with splitting a banana lengthwise and adding it to a traditional sundae, resulting in a delightful combination that became an instant hit.


National Ice Cream Sundae Day

In 1984, National Ice Cream Sundae Day was established to celebrate this beloved dessert. It falls on July 7th each year and serves as a reminder of the rich history and deliciousness of the ice cream sundae.


Continued popularity and innovation

Today, the ice cream sundae remains a cherished dessert enjoyed by people of all ages. It continues to inspire creativity and innovation, with new flavors, toppings, and presentations constantly being created to enhance the sundae experience.

Did you know?

Did you know that originally ice cream sundaes were created to get around religious restrictions on enjoying ice cream on Sundays?


romance food fun

First identified

4th April 2015

Most mentioned on

11th November 2017

Total mentions


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