The Great Banana Split Debate

Walk into any old fashioned soda shop or look at the menu at your favorite ice cream store and you’ll most likely see a banana split on the menu. It’s three scoops of ice cream (vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry), put into a long dish (called a boat) and served between a banana split in half. Then, chocolate, strawberry and pineapple topping is added. Crushed nuts, whipped cream and a maraschino cherry top off the dessert. It’s fun and delicious.

But who invented this magical treat? As with most things, not everyone can agree to the origins of the banana split.

Some say it was invented in 1907 by E.R. Hazard of Wilmington, Ohio. E.R. was a young pharmacist and wanted to attract more customer students from Wilmington College. Back then, soda shops and pharmacy’s were typically housed in the same store. His cousin, Clinton, told him the name “banana split” would never catch on.

But others think that David Strickler, a 23-year-old apprentice pharmacy clerk almost 300 miles away in Latrobe, Pa. in 1904 (which is three years prior than Wilmington’s claim), was the inventor of the banana split. Strickler enjoyed inventing sundaes and used a banana so he could charge twice as much as a traditional sundae (10 cents!).

At that time in the early part of the century, the banana was a new and exotic fruit item, and people weren’t quite sure exactly what to do with it other than eat it straight.  That is until the ice cream sundae came along.  The banana, in essence, was just a natural extension of the ice cream sundae, just like the cherry on the top, or pineapple and strawberries being added.  

But still no matter how you slice it and who caught the banana boat or who missed it, the banana split is as American as apple pie, loved by all, and here to stay. Now, if they could just come up with a way to take all the calories out of a banana split…