For a small town (2000 population: 7,634), Latrobe, Pennsylvania has a lot to brag about. It’s the original hometown of Rolling Rock beer. It was the hometown of golf legend Arnold Palmer and TV legend Mr. Rogers. And if that doesn’t do it for you, it’s also the town where the banana split was born. Now we’re talking.
It was created by one David Strickler, an apprentice pharmacist who worked in the Tassel Pharmacy’s soda shop. He loved inventing sundaes, and in 1904 he created one with three scoops of ice cream and a halved banana. It sold for the outrageous price of ten cents, and it was a hit with the students at the town’s St. Vincent College.
As you might expect, there are other jealous towns that said, “We did it first.” Boston, but they had one problem – they didn’t peel the banana! And Wilmington, Ohio – but they weren’t even original enough to be the first town named Wilmington, so they’re obviously copycats. No, Latrobe has been certified as the birthplace of the banana split by no less an authority than the National Ice Cream Retailers Association. And when NICRA speaks, they give the authentic scoop. “Scoop,” oh man, I crack myself up.
Supposedly, Walgreens helped make the banana split a national phenomenon by offering it as a feature dessert at its soda fountains. Let’s all take a moment and mourn the loss of the drug store fountain, a wonderful piece of Americana that today’s mega-pharmacies will never replace.
Split a banana lengthwise in a “boat” dish. Add one scoop of vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry ice cream. Top with pineapple or butterscotch (on the vanilla), chocolate syrup (on the chocolate), and strawberry topping (on the strawberry). Add nuts, whipped cream, and a cherry.