Who Invented the Hot Fudge Sundae?

Hot fudge sundae

Thick and rich, hot fudge sauce turns ordinary vanilla ice cream into something magical. Cold vanilla ice cream gets slightly melted from the hot fudge and topped with whipped cream and a maraschino cherry. It’s a classic and easy dessert. But what’s the history of the hot fudge sundae and who invented it?

Before we get into the hot fudge sundae, we need to know where the ice cream sundae originates. There are a few possibilities.

One is the sundae is tied to Sunday Blue Laws that were passed in the late 1800s early 1900s. A restriction was selling soda on Sundays. At this time, ice cream soda was very popular which meant shops were prohibited from selling it on Sunday. To get around the law, they began selling ice cream sodas without the soda – that left a glass of ice cream and the syrup.

Another theory is back in 1881 in Wisconsin, soda shop owner Ed Berners had a customer that asked for a bowl of ice cream with the syrup used for soda on top. He liked it, charged a nickel, and decided to add it to his menu. George Giffy, a competing soda shop owner, felt he needed to serve the concoction too and decided to serve it for a nickel only on Sundays. His Ice Cream Sunday became very popular and he realized he was making the most money on Sunday. So, he decided to serve it every day… and change the name to ice cream sundae.

The third idea is it originated in Ithaca, New York where Chester Platt owned Platt & Colt’s drugstore. On a Sunday, he prepared a dish of vanilla ice cream for a local reverend in 1893. Platt added cherries and cherry syrup to the ice cream. They named it a Cherry Sunday since it was made on a Sunday.

There is no question, though, as to who invented the hot fudge sundae. We can thank Clarence Clifton Brown for this heavenly dessert.

In 1906, Clarence owned C.C. Brown’s Ice Cream Shop in Los Angeles, California. He had the idea to create a topping that would slowly melt the cold ice cream. He experimented for two months and finally found the right recipe. Served in fluted glasses that allowed the melted ice cream and hot fudge to drip down the sides, his sundae became a huge hit. It was served (and remained very popular) until the shop closed in 1996.

No longer do we need to go to an ice cream shop to enjoy a hot fudge sundae. Through the years, companies began to package hot fudge that can be quickly heated at home.

While store-bought hot fudge sauce is delicious it’s easy to make from scratch. If you want to try, here are two Blue Ribbon recipes you’re guaranteed to love. While they may not be 100% traditional, they will make your hot fudge sundae’s extra special.

Thick and Rich Hot Fudge Sauce

Thick and Rich Hot Fudge Sauce

"This hot fudge is so simple to whip up. So yummy on so many things - like a drizzle on my chocolate fudge cupcakes, on ice cream, in sundaes, on fruit or use in trifles, the list is endless." - Wendy
No Fail Hot Fudge Sauce

No Fail Hot Fudge Sauce

"I'm not a fan of ice cream, BUT anything with chocolate is alright with me. The peanut butter just makes it better... I've never had this fail and it's sooo good!" - Cheryl