The Controversy of the Ice Cream Sundae, Born in Central New York
There's been a war raging for years over the birthplace of the ice cream sundae, and Central New York is right in the middle of it, as we celebrate National Ice Cream Sundae Day on November 11th.
Ithaca’s claim to the ice cream sundae tracks back to Sunday, April 3rd, 1892. Following services that day at Ithaca's Unitarian Church, the Reverend John M. Scott stopped in to Platt & Colt Pharmacy to order a bowl of ice cream. When owner Chester Platt prepared the dessert, he added cherry syrup over the vanilla ice cream, and topped it off with a candied Maraschino cherry. The cost: 10 cents.
Scott dubbed the dessert for the day it was created, but the spelling was altered in order to avoid offending deeply religious folks who didn't want the name of the Sabbath used in a commercial enterprise. There is historical proof supporting the story, including an early newspaper ad for a Strawberry Sunday. There's also evidence in the pharmacy's ledgers, which can be found in Cornell University's Kroch Library.
But, there IS controversy...
The town of Two Rivers, Wisconsin claims a druggist THERE, Edward Berners, served the first ice cream sundae in 1881. According to their story, a customer ordered an ice cream soda on a Sunday. Because there was a law prohibiting serving ice cream SODAS on a Sunday, Berners served his customer a DISH of ice cream with chocolate sauce.
The problem: there's NO evidence supporting the Wisconsin claim. And, even Berners' obituary estimates his first sundae was served around 1900.
Still, arguments ensued about the birthplace of the ice cream sundae. The mayors of the two towns exchanged friendly and not-so-friendly barbs back in the 1970s, and there was even a cease-and-desist legal document issued against Ithaca by Two Rivers.
We're siding with Ithaca. Then, we can discuss who makes the BEST ice cream sundae in Central New York.