The sundae is an ice cream dessert. It typically consists of a scoop of ice cream topped with sauce or syrup, and in some cases other toppings including chopped nuts, whipped cream, or maraschino cherries.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the origin of the term sundae is obscure. Various American localities have claimed to be the birthplace of the ice cream sundae. These claimants include Ithaca, New York; Two Rivers, Wisconsin; Plainfield, Illinois; Evanston, Illinois; New York City; New Orleans, Louisiana; Cleveland, Ohio; and Buffalo, New York.
There is debate between Ithaca and Two Rivers over which city has the right to claim the title “birthplace of the ice cream sundae.” When Ithaca mayor Carolyn K. Peterson proclaimed a day to celebrate her city as the birthplace of the sundae, she received postcards from Two Rivers’ citizens reiterating that town’s claim.
Of the many stories about the invention of the sundae, one frequent theme is the sinfulness of the ice cream soda and the need to produce a substitute for the popular treat for consumption on Sunday. Peter Bird writes in The First Food Empire (2000) that the name ‘sundae’ was adopted from Illinois state’s early prohibition of ice cream consumption on Sundays, because ice cream with a topping that obscured the main product was not deemed to be ice cream.