|Place of origin||United States|
|Region or state||Latrobe, Pennsylvania|
|Main ingredients||Vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry ice cream
A banana split is an ice cream-based dessert. In its traditional form it is served in a long dish called a boat. A banana is cut in half lengthwise (hence the name) and laid in the dish. There are many variations, but the classic banana split is made with three scoops of ice cream (one each of vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry.) served between the split banana. A sauce or sauces (chocolate, strawberry, and pineapple are traditional) are drizzled onto the ice cream, then crushed nuts (generally peanuts or walnuts) and whipped cream, then topped with a maraschino cherry.
David Evans Strickler, a 23-year-old apprentice pharmacist at Tassel Pharmacy, located at 805 Ligonier Street in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, who enjoyed inventing sundaes at the store's soda fountain, invented the banana-based triple ice cream sundae in 1904. The sundae originally cost 10 cents, twice the price of other sundaes, and caught on with students of nearby Saint Vincent College. News of a new variety of sundae quickly spread by word-of-mouth and through correspondence and soon progressed far beyond Latrobe. A popular recipe published in 1907 called for a lengthwise split banana, two scoops of ice cream at each end and a spoon of whipped cream in between with maraschino cherry on a top, with one end covered with chopped mixed nuts and another with chopped mixed fruits.
Strickler went on to buy the pharmacy, naming it Strickler's Pharmacy, while keeping his office on a top floor.
The city of Latrobe celebrated the 100th anniversary of the invention of the banana split in 2004 and, in the same year, the National Ice Cream Retailers Association (NICRA) certified the city as its birthplace. It is the place of an annual Great American Banana Split Celebration and a keeper of the original soda fountain where the first now famous throughout the world confection was made.
The Great American Banana Split Celebration is held throughout the downtown Latrobe area in late August with food, fun and events for kids and adults to enjoy. In November 2014 the Latrobe Community Revitalization Program, after managing the event for 2 years, handed over the organization of the event to the Greater Latrobe-Laurel Valley Community Chamber of Commerce.
Wilmington, Ohio also claims an early connection. In 1907, restaurant owner Ernest Hazard wanted to attract students from Wilmington College during the slow days of winter. He staged an employee contest to come up with a new ice cream dish. When none of his workers were up to the task, he split a banana lengthwise, threw it into an elongated dish and created his own dessert. The town commemorates the event each June with its own Banana Split Festival.
Walgreens is credited with spreading the popularity of the banana split. The early drug stores operated by Charles Rudolph Walgreen in the Chicago area adopted the banana split as a signature dessert. Fountains in the stores proved to be a draw, attracting customers who might otherwise have been just as satisfied having their prescriptions filled at some other drug store in the neighborhood.
The banana split pie was created by Janet Winquest, a 16-year-old resident of Holdrege, Nebraska. In 1952, she won a $3,000 prize in Pillsbury's Grand National Recipe and Baking Contest for the recipe.