A Brief History of the Ice Cream Sundae

The humble ice cream sundae isn’t so simple when it comes to its past. Here’s some fodder for your servers, courtesy of Anne Funderburgh, historian and author of Sundae Best.

Several cities claim to have invented the ice cream sundae. These places include: New Orleans, Louisiana; Ithaca, New York; Two Rivers, Wisconsin; and Evanston, Illinois.

The original sundae, which can be traced back to the late 1800s, consisted of a small bowl of ice cream with chocolate syrup. Over the next five years, whipped cream, nuts and a cherry were added.

During the 1890s, blue laws prevented the sale of ice cream sundaes on Sunday because of its popularity and its competition with the Christian sabbath.

Retailers adopted the spelling of sundae because advertising a Sunday Special would lead consumers to believe that the treat was only available on Sundays.