Origin of the Ice Cream Sundae

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Although Evanston is only one of a few cities that claim to be the city where the ice cream sundae originated, the history as it is known is an interesting one. Mr. Richard Lloyd Jones, former editor and publisher of the Tulsa Tribune, wrote the following version of the story:

"I grew up as a Chicago kid who did the things that most city boys do. I chased the fire engines all over Chicago and early was as much a patron of the soda fountains as my purse would permit. I remember when the sundae first appeared over the marble fountain counter and I remember the soda jerkers of that time relating the story of the origin which was something like this:

Evanston, Chicago's Godly neighbor, "Heavenston" as the good Frances E. Willard used to call it, was in those days at least rather Methodist minded. The piety of the town resented the dissipating influences of the soda fountain on Sunday and the good town fathers, yielding to this churchly influence, passed an ordinance prohibiting the retailing of ice cream sodas on Sunday.

Some ingenious confectioners and drug store operators, in "Heavenston," obeying the law, served ice cream with the syrup of your choice without the soda. Thereby complying with the law. They did not serve ice cream sodas. They served sodas without soda on Sunday. This sodaless soda was the Sunday soda. It proved palatable and popular and orders for Sundays began to cross the counters on Mondays.

Objections then was made to christening a dish after the Sabbath. So the spelling of "sunday" was changed. It became an established dish and an established word and finally the Heavenston "sundae" appeared even in Congregational Connecticut.

I do not vouch for this as being totally accurate history, but it is the history of the word which was common gossip in my boyhood at the time the "sunday" appeared at the soda counters which I patronised."

There are at least half a dozen communities in America that claim the Sundae as their own; another famous etymology traces the ice cream sundae to Ithaca, New York. But Evanstonians would like to believe the word belongs to them. The Evanston Review once wrote: "While Ithaca may have had the sundae as early as 1897, as the chamber[of commerce] there claims, it obviously got there by two means. Either some Northwestern student brought it home with him or a Cornell student from Evanston took it there."

 

 

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