A world without ice cream sundaes would be a sad (and less tasty) world indeed. And yet, if Evanston’s early residents had not been so enflamed by the sale of ice cream sodas on the Sabbath, that is exactly the kind of world we might be living in.
In the late nineteenth century, Evanston, Illinois, was so inundated with prohibitionists and moralists that people called it “Heavenston.” Some of these pious folk were concerned about youth hanging out at the drugstore soda fountains on Sundays. They figured all those ice cream floats were distracting the kids from God.
At their behest, Evanston passed a law prohibiting the sale of ice cream sodas on Sunday. The drug store operators were not to be so easily subdued, however. They did not want to lose half their weekend business.
Fortunately, some clever soda jerk decided to dish up ice cream with hot syrup instead of soda on Sunday, thus getting around the prohibition. The delicious concoction was an instant hit, and people started asking for an “ice cream Sunday.”
This angered the moralists who had passed the law in the first place. They especially did not want the Sabbath to be used in the name of the dessert. To appease them, the drug store owners changed the spelling of their confection to “sundae.” The dessert soon became popular in Chicago, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Other towns have laid claim to the honor of bringing the first ice cream sundae to the world, too. Ithaca, New York; Plainfield, Illinois; and Two Rivers, Wisconsin all have their own sundae invention stories. Residents of Evanston insist, though, that the sundae was born in "Heavenston."