The traditional banana split (photo courtesy California Milk Advisory Board).
How should you celebrate August 25th, National Banana Split Day?
There’s the tried and true banana split, of course. Classically served in a long dish, called a boat (which gives the sundae its alternative name, banana boat), the recipe is familiar to most ice cream lovers:
A banana is cut in half lengthwise and set in the dish with scoops of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream. The strawberry ice cream is garnished with pineapple topping, chocolate syrup is poured on the vanilla ice cream and strawberry topping covers the chocolate ice cream. Crushed nuts, whipped cream and maraschino cherries garnish the entire boat.
DECONSTRUCTED BANANA SPLIT
1. CUT the bananas in half width-wise, and then lengthwise. Sauté in butter with a dash of cinnamon until browned. Arrange on a plate, as shown in the photo.
2. ARRANGE the other ingredients: whipped cream, caramel corn and fruit.
3. DRIZZLE with sauce or fruit purée of choice.
BANANA SPLIT HISTORY
According to the Pennsylvania town of Latrobe, the banana split was invented in 1904 by David Evans Strickler, a 23-year-old apprentice pharmacist at Tassel Pharmacy*. He enjoyed inventing sundaes at the store’s soda fountain. His first “banana-based triple ice cream sundae” sold for 10 cents, which was double the cost of the other sundaes.
News of the new sundae was picked up by the press and spread nationwide. Variations of the recipe appeared in newspapers.
The enterprising Strickler went on to buy the pharmacy, re-naming it Strickler’s Pharmacy. The city of Latrobe celebrated the 100th anniversary of the invention of the banana split in 2004, and the National Ice Cream Retailers Association (NICRA) certified the city as its birthplace.
*According to Wikipedia, Walgreens is credited with spreading the popularity of the banana split. A chain of drug stores established in the Chicago area in 1901 by Charles Rudolph Walgreen, Walgreens promoted the banana split as a signature dessert. But was it served when the store opened, or did someone at Walgreens read the recipe and adopt it. Did Walgreens bestow the name Banana Split to the “banana-based triple ice cream sundae”? So far, the record is mute.