More than one American town claims to be the birthplace of the ice cream sundae. Two Rivers, Wisconsin asserts that Edward C. Berners, the owner of a local soda fountain, first drizzled chocolate syrup over ice cream in 1881. Evanston, Illinois passed a blue law in 1890 prohibiting the sale of ice cream sodas on the Sabbath. To circumvent that restriction, some drug store operators served ice cream drizzled with the sauce of your choice but no soda; this sodaless ice cream soda, fully compliant with the law, came to be known as the Sunday soda. When Methodist ministers objected to the Sabbath reference, the spelling of the name was changed to sundae.
The first written reference to a sundae came in an ad in the Ithaca (New York) Daily Journal dated April 5, 1892; Local pharmacy owner Chester Platt advertised his ‘Cherry Sunday,’ and he later tried to trademark the term ‘ice cream Sunday.’ At about the same time a druggist named Sonntag in Plainfield, Illinois created what he claimed was the first ice cream sundae and named it after himself, since Sonntag means Sunday in German. Other claimants include New York City, New Orleans (Louisiana), Cleveland (Ohio) and Buffalo (New York).