Today is National Banana Split Day. Yum! Perfect dessert as we go racing headlong into the end of Summer. Have you ever wondered who came up with this delicious summer treat? Like so many recipes of old, it’s hard to say with complete certainty.
One thing is clear, Banana Splits are All-American. In the early 1900s, the town pharmacy was more than just a place to pick up your prescription drugs. Most drug stores also offered a soda fountain on the side. And the soda fountains were the popular social spot on a warm summer afternoon. While Soda Jerks might not sound like an honorable profession for a young man, they were often seen as masters of their craft serving up ice cream and soda drink concoctions. Besides, it was a fun job that offered a great opportunity to meet girls.
Legend has it that in 1904 David “Doc” Strickler, an optometrist in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, created the first Banana Split. It seems Strickler was inspired by a fruit laden sundae he saw while vacationing in Atlantic City that summer. A Strickler Banana Split is made with a split banana, scoops of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry ice creams that are covered with chocolate syrup, whipped cream a sprinkling of nuts and a singe cherry on top.
In 1905, The Soda Fountain Magazine published an article declaring that the banana split was the brainchild of Stinson Thomas of Boston. The Boston Banana Split uses only vanilla ice cream, with only two scoops. Cherries were placed on top of both scoops, with sliced peaches used as a divider between the scoops. A mixture of pistachios and crushed walnuts were the finishing touches.
Finally, in Wilmington, Ohio there is yet another version of the Banana Split Sundae that made the scene around the same time and was later published in 1907. Although the Wilmington version uses three scoops of ice cream, it’s not clear which flavors were used or if, like the Boston Split, vanilla was the choice offered. However; the Wilmington Banana Split more closely resembles splits we enjoy today with toppings such as chocolate, strawberry and pineapple sauces. The Wilmington Split also used a drizzle of caramel sauce for an extra shot of sugar rush.
So while we might never know for sure who first came up with a Banana Split, one thing is certain – there is no wrong way to make a banana split.
In our house, on banana split nights we pull out all the stops – three flavors of ice cream, whipped cream, peanuts, almonds, strawberry, pineapple and caramel sauce, plus chocolate syrup and those bright cherries on top. It’s everyone for themselves. Fun for the whole family.
1 cup Salted Peanuts
4 ripe Bananas
4 scoops Vanilla Ice Cream
4 scoops Chocolate Ice Cream
4 scoops Strawberry Ice Cream
1 cup Crushed Pineapples
1 cup Strawberry Preserves
1 cup Caramel Sauce
Chocolate Syrup, optional
Note: Nuts such as sliced almonds are also delicious. Hubby likes peanuts, I go for the almonds. As for Kiddo, he skips the nuts, going for more whipped cream instead.
Chop peanuts, set aside. Split bananas in half lengthwise, place 2 halves in each banana boat, cut side in.
Place 1 scoop of each kind of ice cream between banana halves. Top Vanilla Ice Cream with Crushed Pineapples, Chocolate ice cream with Caramel Sauce and Strawberry Ice Cream with Strawberry Preserves. (Or mix things up as you like).
Finish each scoop of ice cream with some whipped cream, sprinkle with nuts and cherries. Drizzle with chocolate sauce as desired.
Serve immediately and enjoy.