The Ice Cream Sundae's Birthplace? That’s the 64,000-Calorie Question
NPR: Ice Cream Sundaes from Coast to Coast [Real Player, pdf]
Two Rivers, Wisconsin: Home of the Ice Cream Sundae
The Official Website of the Ice Cream Sundae
Ice Cream Recipes
The origins of quotidian items tend to be well documented, and even the fiercest debates often are resolved after a bit of historical research. When it comes to food items and other such concoctions, well, that's a horse of a different color. One such debate that continues to rage on regards the original provenance of the ice cream sundae, a summer treat that's hard to beat. The stakes are high, and the two primary players in this saga are the local chambers of commerce in the cities of Two Rivers, Wisconsin, and that most bucolic college town, Ithaca, New York. Two Rivers, located on the way to ever-pleasant Door County, claims that one Ed Berner made the first ice cream sundae in 1881 in his soda fountain emporium in the heart of that fair city. As the story goes, a gentleman named George Hallauer, asked Berner to put some chocolate sauce on a dish of ice cream, and voila: the birth of a delicious sweet treat. In recent weeks, various town boosters and spirited denizens of Ithaca have countered with a newspaper ad for a "Cherry Sunday", published in the Ithaca Daily Journal from April 5, 1892. Further ammunition for Ithaca's claim has been provided by Michael Turback (an author and Ithacan) who has stated "The sundae really became a sundae when the name Sunday was attached to the dish. And the cherry on top. Those two essential parts of the story originated in Ithaca." While this tête-à-tête has remained relatively amicable so far, other commentators fear that other soda fountain staples may soon face the same scrutiny.
The first link leads to news coverage of the ice cream sundae debate offered by the venerable New Orleans Times-Picayune. The second link provides some more details on the whole business as presented by The New York Times, which surveyed everyone from the mayor of Ithaca to Two Rivers resident Jerry Schubring, who notes, "Everyone knows Two Rivers invented it. That's why we're all so fat here. We eat a lot of them." Visitors on the look out for the best ice cream sundaes in the US should appreciate the third link, which includes a National Public Radio feature on various regional variations on this popular dish. The fourth link leads to the official Two Rivers homepage, complete with details on their claim to ice cream sundae fame, along with a city proclamation that makes the bold claim that their city is in fact the "coolest city in America's dairyland." The fifth site is maintained by the aforementioned Michael Turback, and contains some information on his own work, along with a canonical drawing of a sundae that preserves that most precious maraschino cherry on top of it all. The sixth and final link leads to the Ice Cream Recipes website, which offers a wide selection of recipes for inventive ice creams, and includes a number of unusual permutations, such as a brown bread ice cream recipe.