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The History Of Ice Cream Sundaes

Updated on March 16, 2013

Today's Innovations in Sundaes are Delicious!

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CC licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/ | Source

Over 119 years of Ice Cream History

On Sunday April 3, 2011 GOOGLE celebrated its researched 119th anniversary of the Ice Cream Sundae. The GOOGLE DOODLE of the day recalled the turn of the 20th Century soda fountain in the drug store that also sold gasoline (no filling stations yet). Later, there were ice cream parlors. Then, malt shops. Now we have Sonic Drive-Ins and dozens of ice cream parlor chains, all with a different gimmick.

Which of your ancestors was alive during the time that the ice cream sundae first appeared? Likely great- or even great-great-great grandparents, if your family had come to America by that date.

It was 1892.

My paternal grandfather was a young farmer during this time, born a few years after the Civil War. If the first ice cream sundaes appeared when he was young, he saw them in town when he went every Saturday to take crops and other farm-made products to market and pick up what his family needed as well. He lived many decades, outlived three wives, and had children well into his 60s. It was a hard life, because he dropped out of school at age 8 when his Dad died and farmed into his own late 70s. An ice cream sundae was probably one of his only pleasures and times for relaxation in his sunup to sundown days. More likely, he bought them for his kids and watched them enjoy the treat.

The Un-Named Ice Cream Sundae Before 1840

On the wintertime farms in eastern Ohio, families made ice cream from the snow, adding sugar, or honey when they kept bees, vanilla, and some milk or fresh farm cream. This tradition went back before the American Civil War and probably farther. For a sundae, although they did not name is anything at all, they dribbled honey over fresh vanilla ice cream.

For me, the ice cream sundae was invented the first time someone made ice cream from snow and put something over the top in a bowl or mug: honey, home-canned friut, dried fruit, molasses, maple syrup, homemade mincemeat (yes), and probably some other condiments. We cannot place a date on that, but I know it was done at least as far back as 1840 in my father's family, when the men were working on the National Road, Route 40.

When did the commerical ice cream sundae first appear?

A Double Scoop Controversy

Since writing most of this piece, I've found other people on the Internet that are discussing First Lady Dolly Madison's ice cream parties and Thomas Jefferson's enjoyment of ice cream with maple syrup toppings - just after the American Revolution. A jaded eye in some of these discussions points to the Android OS "Ice Cream" update soon to appear and Google's supposed attempt to offer a tie-in prelude to it with the Google Doodle of April 3. Others point to the controversy of the Ithaca New York invention for commercial sale in 1892. They feel that it was named Ice Cream Sunday and served to circumvent the Blue Laws that disallowed ice cream soda sales on Sundays. That sounds like a song title.

My grandfather was alive at the time, but he never went to New York, to my knowledge. A few of his children jumped into a Model A Ford and drove all the way to Colorado one year, buying gasoline at drug stores and probably having an ice cream sundae or soda along the way, though.

And the ice cream cone invention -- Commercially, probably the St. Louis World's Fair. But at home on the farm? If you went somewhere and took ice cream with you, you wrapped the bowl in a handkerchief or -- rolled ice cream up in a piece of leather to make a cone with the bottom folded up to prevent spills; and let the horse or dog with you lick it clean when you were finished eating.

Farmers could have been millionaires on the commercial market and it is discouraging to see so many of them failing in today's marketplace. I look forward to them inventing something else to stike the world with awe - and this time, themselves with money.

Ice Cream Cone Dance Challenge

Rate this exotic ice cream...

5 out of 5 stars from 1 rating of Coconut Milk Ice Cream

Coconut Milk Ice Cream Recipe - Dairy Free


  • Two 14-oz. Cans of full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 Cup of your favorite honey
  • 2 TBSP Vanilla extract

Note: For holidays and variety, you can use other flavored extracts and add food coloring. I like to use orange extract and add some orange zest from a fresh fruit. You can use about anything with this basic recipe to create a range of flavors. please enjoy!


  • In a large mixing bowl, mix all of the ingredients together.
  • With an ice cream freezeer, follow the directions given with the machine.
  • When completely frozen, ripen the ice cream in a covered plastic container for about three hours. It will last about two weeks in the freezer.

Cats Like Ice Cream in Los Angeles

Lefty's Ice Cream Cone Intrigue

Comments and Remembrance

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    • profile image

      nuc63x 6 years ago

      You rarely see good homemade ice cream for sale outside in the summertime, its is truly a shame.

    • susannah42 profile image

      susannah42 6 years ago from Florida

      I do remember stopping on the way home from school (i walked) at the local soda fountain/drug store and getting an ice cream sundae. I miss that, and ice cream parlors, dairies where you could go and get ice cream. They are all gone.

    • The Jet profile image

      The Jet 6 years ago from The Bay

      Last time I had a sundae was at Fenton's. That pic looks delicious and now I'm craving it. Cool hub!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 6 years ago from North America

      Better than our current bottled ones, I bet! Thanks for the memories.

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Patty, we had a soda fountain in our town when i was just a young lad, i can remember buying lime and cherry cokes for a dime !

      Awesome and vote up !!!

    • Sinea Pies profile image

      Sinea Pies 6 years ago from Northeastern United States

      The sundae in that photo is elegant! Makes you want a sundae, right now!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 6 years ago from North America

      Hey Gus - If you start your own soda fountain, I'll be the first one at your counter!

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 6 years ago from USA

      Hi Patty - When I was a kid I had several "soda jerk" jobs part time... and today I still like ice cream sundaes, particularly the ones I make myself so that I can pile them high with all sorts of good stuff, including fruit-flavored yogurt, strawberries, syrup and whatever else is within reach. A fun article Patty. Thanks.

      Gus :-)))

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 6 years ago from North America

      You must have one and frozen yogurt is great too imo - make one with anything you'd like on it or visit an awesome ice cream parlor. Some Tea Rooms make them - sometmes with green tea ice cream. Very nice. Enjoy!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Hahaa, this is awesome!! You know, I've never had a sundae before. Now I'm really hankering for one!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 6 years ago from North America

      Thanks for the comments! I remember the soda fountain at Grays Drug stores, and we had one in the middle of downtown that was open 24 hrs/day.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Patty, this also brought back memories for me. My first job was in high school working for Buxtons making ice cream sundaes, soda, and milkshakes. I believe the sundaie was created the first time some one added the fruit, honey or chocolate to the top of the ice cream Great information and thanks for the trip sown memory lane.

    • profile image

      Lynn S. Murphy 6 years ago

      love how you wove in a personal story with a real time history. very cool.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 6 years ago from North America

      Is is always good to have lived in the time of any controversy and have the facts, or to have known someone who did live then that took good notes. LOL

      There is still the matter of when ice cream sandwiches first appreared...

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

      I love ice cream very much. Thanks Patyy for writing the history of ice cream sundaes. Do you have some more for me? Rated up as usual. Patty, you brought many attentions to me. Ice cream is always delicious. Have a good day!


    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 6 years ago from North America

      Thanks for the memories, Christopher and dahoglund. Woolworths and Kresges lunch counters still had sundaes and sodas until they went out of business I think; not quite the same.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I do remember drug stores with "soda fountains" back in the 1940' and '50s.I think when they went away, Dairy Queen was invented to take their place.Not quite the same thing though.

    • Christopher Price profile image

      Christopher Price 6 years ago from Vermont, USA

      When I was a kid there was a regional chain of ice cream stores that offered "make your own sundaes" for about a dollar...three scoops of your choice of ice cream and a tray of toppings that make my teeth hurt now just to think of 'em. Being allowed to create your own sweet concoction with no adult intervention was wonderful. Eating the sundae was just a bonus!

      Thanks for the memory prompt.


    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 6 years ago from North America

      Definitely before "portion control" clamped down! - You've made me laugh with a good memory!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      What sweet memories you have evoked with this one, Patty. My very first job while I was in 12th grade, was making sundaes and sodas behind a counter in a drugstore. Fortunately, I was only there during summer vaction because with the amount of chocolate hot fudge, caramel, and marshmallow toppings - and nuts - I piled on top of my friends' sundaes, the drugstore would have soon been forced to go out of business.