It was my birthday and all I wanted was Jahn’s Kitchen Sink.
The Kitchen Sink was a massive sundae for over 6 people. It came in a sink-like bowl with 30 scoops of ice cream, topped with gooey nuts, sweet cherries, sprinkles, hot fudge, marshmallows, bananas, caramel, flags, sparklers . . . well you never knew exactly what was in it. Everything was slathered in whipped cream, with spoons for all.
By the time we reached the bottom it was a swamp of beautiful colors, flavors, melted ice cream, and stuff we couldn’t identify – an ice cream sundae soup.
The Kitchen Sink was Jahn’s signature dish. The old-fashioned ice cream parlor had been in New York and Florida since 1897. Today there is only one Jahn’s left.
Who invented the sundae before the Kitchen Sink?
It began in 1874 when American Soda Fountains and “soda jerks” were created. People couldn’t get enough yummy ice cream sodas. Then things changed in the 1890s.
Carbonated water was banned on Sundays as “immoral.” Creative soda jerks took out the soda and left the ice cream. Religious people were horrified that a dessert was named for the Christian Sabbath, so it was changed to “Sundae”.
The Wisconsin Historical Society has a marker in Two Rivers Central Memorial Park (see below). It tells the story of how the “first” ice cream sundae was created.
Let’s head over to Ithaca, NY.
After Sunday services in 1892, Reverend John Scott went to Platt & Colt Pharmacy in downtown Ithaca. One Sunday he ordered his usual – a bowl of vanilla ice cream. The soda jerk served him something special – vanilla ice cream with cherry syrup and a cherry on top.
The Cherry Sundae was born.
While Twin Rivers doesn’t have proof of being first, Ithaca had a lot, including newspapers, ads, and ledgers. In 1894 Platt & Colt applied for a patent for The Cherry Sundae. They were turned down because federal trademarks didn’t cover domestic commerce at the time.
Over a century later, in 2006, Two Rivers demanded that Ithaca “cease and desist” from its claim of being first. They passed a resolution saying:
It is only fitting and proper that the “coolest city” in America’s Dairyland be afforded sole possession of this title [Birthplace of the Ice Cream Sundae].
They were too late. As in any war, there were others claiming to be first, like Evanston, IL, Buffalo, NY, and Plainfield, IL
Evanston’s Garwoods’ Drug Store claimed they followed the law against serving carbonated sodas on Sundays by creating the Sunday Soda – ice cream with the syrup of your choice (and no soda) in 1890.
Buffalo argued that the Stoddart Brothers served ice cream with fruit syrup and whipped cream as early as 1889.
Plainfield described an 1893 druggist who served ice cream with syrup, calling it “the Sonntag.” Sonntag was his last name – it meant Sunday in German.
The Sundae Wars were in full swing.
During World War 2, the government gave a Defense Saving Stamp when you bought a patriotic Victory Sundae. The U.S. Navy built a floating ice cream parlor to boost sailor’s morale in the Pacific. When the war ended, sundaes were passed out to celebrate the victory.
Who won the Sundae Wars?
Today, ice cream sundaes are one of the most popular desserts in the world. There are thousands of flavors, toppings, and combinations. From parfaits to banana splits, Tin Roof to Supreme Brownie, there are endless choices.
The largest sundae was made in Edmonton, Canada. It weighed 55,000 pounds, used 500 gallons of ice cream, 300 gallons of chocolate and strawberry syrups, 2,000 cans of whipped cream, 25 pounds of sprinkles, and 20,000 cherries.
That’s a Kitchen Sink on steroids.
Serendipity 3, in New York, claims the most expensive sundae, The Golden Opulence. It’s a special order (48 hours in advance) and costs $1,000. You get 3 scoops of vanilla ice cream, covered in 23 carat edible gold, syrup made from the world’s most expensive chocolate, and decorated with lavish fruits, almonds, truffles, and cherries. It comes in a crystal goblet topped with a gilded flower, served with sweet caviar and an 18k gold spoon.
Are you looking for a less expensive treat like the Beast, Bellyache Challenge, or Comfy Cow? How about Tokyo’s octopus flavored ice cream? Maybe sardines-on-toast ice cream?
There’s always a Kitchen Sink clone.
Dig in and enjoy!