The Surprising Controversy Behind The History Of The Banana Split

It's a staple of ice cream parlors all across the country. It's probably healthy because it has fruit in it. If you were thinking about banana splits, you'd be right. Although it sounds pretty basic to make — slice a banana lengthwise and add one scoop each of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry ice cream on top, followed by as many toppings as humanely possible — the banana split has earned itself a place in the great and chilly ice cream hall of fame.

Perhaps what's so great about the banana split is that you don't have to follow the classic recipe. As long as you have a banana and some ice cream, you're free to make whatever you want. In some cases, you may not even need the ice cream at all. Paula Deen, for example, has a recipe that converts the beloved sundae into portable cupcakes, while Taste of Home has a suggestion for banana split-flavored banana bread. Whichever way you enjoy your banana split, be it classic, deconstructed, or in the form of a pastry or a loaf, it's no secret that this colorful and giant sundae is something deliciously and uniquely American.

But where exactly does the banana split come from? As the story goes, the invention of the banana split can be laid at the feet of two individuals, with an ongoing debate of who the first one to peel their way to glory was.

The sundae was invented in two different cities

According to the Pennsylvania Center for the Book, the origins of the banana split can be traced back to the town Latrobe in Pennsylvania's Westmoreland County. As the story goes, sometime in 1904, local pharmacy and soda shop employee David "Doc" Strickler created the banana split after being asked for "something different" by a visiting customer. To commemorate Stricker's grand invention, Latrobe holds a Banana Split Festival every summer filled with petting zoos, live entertainment, and plenty of banana splits.

But the origins of the banana split didn't start in Pennsylvania, Ohioans attest. The town of Wilmington, Ohio, has its own Banana Split Festival to honor restaurant owner Ernest R. Hazard and his "unique" invention: the banana split. According to American Profile, Hazard created the dessert back in 1907 as a way to attract younger customers to his restaurant. Although some scoffed at the name "banana split," Hazard's sundae soon became immensely popular not only in Ohio but across the United States.

While the origins of the banana split are as muddied as a bowl of melted ice cream, all Americans can celebrate the banana split on National Banana Split Day every August 25 (via National Today). If you want to get in on the fun, maybe you can celebrate early and make a no-bake banana split cake.