July 8, 2010

Birth of the Ice Cream Sundae? – 1881

The story goes that on this day in 1881, a man named George Hallauer cam
e into Edward Berner's drug store in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. He sat down at the soda-fountain counter, wanting a chocolate soda (a glass with ice cream, chocolate flavoring, and soda water). But it was Sunday, and by the laws of that place and time, the customer couldn't have soda water. Berner poured chocolate syrup over ice cream in a dish as a substitute, and he called it a Sunday.

Apparently Hallauer liked his Sunday. Soon Berner began to sell the ice cream treat every Sunday (when he couldn't sell sodas), and it eventually
became so popular that he began to sell it every day of the week (and with different flavors as well). At that point, Berner changed the spelling from Sunday to sundae.

That's a nice story that tells about the invention and naming of the ice cream sundae—and I found several different sources that recount this story. One article states that there is even a monument commemorating this event in Two Rivers Central Memorial Park.

Still, some ice-cream historians say that the story isn't accurate. Another history of the first sundae (and the name Sunday or sundae) has more evidence backing it up, and the Official Website of the Ice Cream Sundae has thrown its weight behind the latter story, which occurred in New York in April of 1892.

How can we know which story is true?

Well, Wikipedia states that two high school students have computed that Edward Berner would have only been 16 or 17 in 1881, and they judged it unlikely that he would have owned a drug store at that time. I did something perhaps even easier: I checked the internet to see what day of the week July 8, 1881 was—and it wasn't a Sunday, it was a Friday!

My guess is, if the date is wrong, maybe the whole thing is wrong! I guess I will go along with ice cream historians on this one.

Celebrate anyway!

You know what to do: make and eat a gigantic ice cream sundae or throw a sundae-making/eating party! Here are some recipe ideas.

If you want to REALLY celebrate, get together with others and play some ice cream games. (Scroll down to find the games.)

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