A Cherry on Top – Invention of the Ice Cream Sundae

Cherry Sundae AdOn Sunday, April 3, Google celebrated the anniversary of the first ice cream sundae with one of its famous Google Doodles. But the invention of the sundae celebrated by Google is only one of the stories about how the ice cream treat came to exist. For years, there has been an ongoing debate about how and where the sundae was invented.

Google and their doodle celebrated the anniversary of the sundae on April 3. Folks in Ithaca, New York claim that on April 3, 1892, Chester Platt who owned the Platt & Colt’s drugstore, concocted the first ice cream sundae. Reverend John M. Scott visited the store for his usual dish of vanilla ice cream after church services on Sunday. Platt decided to liven up the vanilla ice cream with cherry syrup and top it with a cherry. Scott loved the ice cream and purposed that the treat be called a Cherry Sunday after the day it was created. On April 5, 1892, Platt placed an ad in the Ithaca Daily Journal for his new 10-cent ice cream specialty.

Two Rivers, Wisconsin also has it’s own version of the invention of the sundae. George Hallauer asked Ed Berners, owner of a local soda fountain, for an ice cream topped with syrup normally used to make sodas. Despite Berners’ initial protest over ruining the flavor of the ice cream, he eventually made the treat for Hallauer. Berners sampled the dish himself and liked it enough to start selling it in his shop for the same price as an ice cream.

SundaeTwo Rivers takes credit for the dish but not the name. The name, they say, came from George Giffy. Giffy owned a nearby soda fountain in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Because of the popularity of the treat at Berners’ shop, he decided that he needed to sell the same ice cream with syrup. Because he thought the nickel price was too cheap, Giffy only sold the special treat on Sunday calling it an “Ice Cream Sunday.” Eventually though he realized he was making money off the ice cream treat and began selling it every day. Still, the name stuck.

Evanston, Illinois claims the ice cream sundae was invented there. In 1890, the town was one of the first places to pass a law prohibiting the sale of soda water and ice cream sodas on Sunday. Local soda fountain owners found an alternative treat to sell on Sunday. The Sunday soda was the syrup and ice cream without the soda.

In Plainfield, Illinois, the story goes that the sundae was named not after the day but, the person who invented it. A local druggist named Sonntag was looking for a new dish to serve his soda fountain customers. He began serving ice cream topped with syrup. He named the dish after himself. Sonntag mean Sunday in German and soon the treat became known as a Sunday.

These are just a few of the stories behind the ice cream sundae. Like many great inventions, many have tried to take credit for being the first to make it. The controversy behind the sundae will continue. No matter whose idea it was, the sundae is a delicious ice cream treat for any day of the week.