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National Sundae Day

Sundaes—ice cream desserts with one or more scoops of ice cream with sauces or syrups, often with other toppings such as fruits, maraschino cherries, nuts, sprinkles, and whipped cream—are enjoyed on National Sundae Day. Sundaes can also be made with other desserts similar to ice cream, such as custard or frozen yogurt. The "classic" sundae has vanilla ice cream topped with a flavored sauce or syrup, such as chocolate or strawberry, as well as whipped cream and a maraschino cherry. Some variations of the sundae include the banana split, knickerbocker glory, turtle sundae, and tin roof sundae. Sundaes are also often topped with heated sauces or syrups such as hot fudge, butterscotch, and caramel.

There are a few stories as to how and where sundaes got their start. One says they got their start in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, in 1881. There, George Hallauer ordered an ice cream dish at Ed Berner's soda fountain. His dish gained popularity, and other nearby fountains began serving it. It was George Giffy, who owned a fountain in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, who decided to serve it only on Sundays—hence the name it received.

Another story says that in Evanston, Illinois, in the 1890s, moralists were speaking out against drinking soda water on the Sabbath. In response, confectioners decided to create "Sundays," which had ice cream and flavored syrups instead of soda water. Another early name for the dessert was "Soda-less Soda." To remove any connection to the Sabbath, "Sundays" eventually became known as "sundaes."

Other cities have claimed to be the originator of the sundae, including Ann Arbor, Michigan; Ithaca, New York; Norfolk, Virginia; and Washington, D.C. No matter where they were created, they were wildly popular by the turn of the twentieth century and were served in dishes shaped like tulips that became known as sundae glasses. Around this time, many variations of the sundae were created as well.

How to Observe National Sundae Day

Celebrate by having a sundae at a restaurant, ice cream parlor, or custard stand—or make one at home! Try your hand at a classic sundae, banana split, knickerbocker glory, turtle sundae, or tin roof sundae (also known as a black and white sundae). Some ice cream manufacturers and shops offer discounts today, so check for them too!

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