My first memory of an extravagant ice cream dessert was a banana split at Alyce’s Homemade Ice Cream in Salem, Massachusetts. In a plastic tub with three scoops of ice cream, crushed pineapple, nuts, strawberries, hot fudge, caramel sauce and whipped cream, the messy, gooey super sundae was the fantasy creation that marked summer lovin’.
Celebrate Banana Split Day
Now with its own holiday, the banana split has grown up and even morphed into other creative dishes. Invented in 1904 at Tassel Pharmacy in Latrobe, Pennsylvania by soda jerk David Strickler as a challenge to create something different, the dessert became mainstream on the East Coast before it landed in other parts of the country. We present a banana split sojourn where you can enjoy some of the best and most interesting permutations of this beloved confection.
Where Tradition Reigns Supreme
Fornino | Brooklyn, NY
Sometimes basic is all you need. Brooklyn’s Fornino serves up the dressed-up ice cream sundae with a killer view that makes it super special. Overlooking Manhattan from its Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 6 location, the casual spot invites you to cool off and stuff your face while taking in Manhattan’s magnificent skyline from its spacious rooftop.
Heather’s Homemade Ice Cream | Hopkinsville, KY
Banana lovers have a reason to rejoice in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Heather’s Homemade Ice Cream scoops up a show-stopping banana split made with homemade banana ice cream, mashed bananas and banana chunks churned together to create a taste sensation that takes the original recipe to a new level. You might want to bring along a bib for this one.
Annie’s Soda Saloon & Cafe | Cody, WY
Annie’s Old Fashioned Soda Saloon & Cafe sits in an early-20th century physician’s office transformed into a western café in Cody, Wyoming. The Original Banana Split is adorned with a scoop of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream; a banana; pineapple, strawberry and chocolate toppings with whipped cream, peanuts and a cherry on top. If that’s not enough, supersize it with the 12 scoops of ice cream. With two bananas, hot fudge, caramel, nuts, whipped cream and a cherry, it’s free of charge if you can finish it in less than 12 minutes.
Barbecue Center | Lexington, NC
Another fan of excess is Barbecue Center, one of the top barbecue restaurants in Lexington, North Carolina. The hulking banana split is a regular menu item, a behemoth weighing between three and four pounds and generally shared by a table of four. BBQ and ice cream? Why the heck not. The restaurant sells a dozen or more each day and guests can watch as the dessert is made in full view at the front counter.
Lagomarcino's | Moline, IL & Davenport, IA
James Beard Award-winner Lagomarcino’s is a century-old, family-owned confectionary famous for hot fudge sundaes as well as hand-dipped chocolates and filled chocolate eggs. The sweet shoppe offers two varieties of banana splits —the classic Fruit Banana Split and the Quad-Cities Special that looks like a riverboat on the Mississippi. Picture a split ripe banana and two scoops of rich vanilla and strawberry ice cream, all smothered with strawberry and homemade chocolate toppings, decorated with whipped cream, a red maraschino cherry, crushed nuts and a paddlewheel made of cookies. It’s almost too beautiful to eat. Plan a trip to visit their two locations in Moline, Illinois and Davenport, Iowa.
Unusual Desserts, Drinks and Dishes
Banana split lovers can also satisfy their passion with treats that go well beyond a platter of ice cream.
Lobster Alley | Raritan, NJ
A fun twist on the classic banana split, the Banana Split Poke Cake from Raritan, New Jersey’s Lobster Alley serves up a sinfully rich cake with all the flavors of a banana split. Taking its menu cues from the summer-drenched shores of Maine, there’s no shaming here—you can control your portion size with a slice of cake instead of a boat of ice cream.
Annapolis Ice Cream Company | Annapolis, MD
Can you think of anything more decadent than an ice cream and donut dessert fantasy? This crazy combination comes from the owners’ upbringing in New England where both ice cream and donuts rule the roost. The Icy Bunz Banana Split from the Annapolis Ice Cream Company mixes up two favorite Maryland desserts: homemade creamy ice cream and hand-cut Carlson’s donuts. The dessert takes a honey-glazed Carlson donut; a fresh banana; and three scoops of creamy mint chocolate chip, cookie monster and raspberry chocolate chip ice cream, douses them all with a fair share of whipped cream and adds the finishing touch, three cherries.
Hollywood Tavern | Woodinville, WA
Dating back to 1922 across from the Hollywood Dairy Farm, Hollywood Tavern, in the heart of Woodinville, Washington wine country brings the community together with inventive craft cocktails including a whiskey banana split that celebrates the joys of summer. Sip some decadence around the fire pit with the boozy bourbon-filled mashup.
Breakfast Republic | San Diego, CA
Also on the West Coast, San Diego’s Breakfast Republic recognizes that banana splits aren’t just for dessert with their brunch staple, Banana Split French Toast. Topped with brûléed banana, vanilla ice cream, walnuts and chocolate sauce, this brioche beast is perfectly crafted to satisfy your sweet tooth. Enjoy it for breakfast or lunch at any of the restaurant’s ten locations.