Where does a sundae come from?
Malaysia, Yugoslavia, and Persia should all take a bow - but so should Brooklyn, Philadelphia, and a nameless shopkeeper.
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Up until the mid-1800s, marshmallow candy made in the United States contained marsh mallow sap as a thickener. Today's recipes use gelatin (made from animal bones and hides) instead of the sap. Mostly, though, marshmallows are made of corn syrup or sugar. Gum arabic (made from acacia trees) serves as a "foam stabilizer." Flavoring is also added.Skip to next paragraph
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Roasted walnuts have been enjoyed for at least 8,000 years. Archaeologists have found petrified shells of walnuts from the Neolithic period. Clay tablets record that walnut groves were part of the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon - one of the seven wonders of the ancient world - 4,000 years ago. The walnut most familiar to us today is the Persian (also known as the English or Italian) walnut. This walnut, once reserved for Persian royalty, was sent to Greece in ancient times.
The Romans acquired it from the Greeks and planted it across Europe. It could be that the Romans reestablished walnut trees in Europe. The last of the glaciers from the Pleistocene era (from 1.8 million to 10,000 years ago) may have wiped out the walnut trees of northern Europe.
Walnuts have been part of dessert for ages. In 14th-century France, a banquet dessert was made of walnuts preserved in spiced honey, stirred once a week for several weeks in preparation. The English ate walnuts with cheese at the end of a meal. Baklava, a well-known Middle Eastern delicacy, is made with layers of filo dough, honey, and ground walnuts.
Russian-born immigrant Samuel Born gets credit for inventing chocolate sprinkles. Born arrived in America about 1910. By 1923 he had established the Just Born Candy Company, a small candymaking factory and retail store in Brooklyn, N.Y. He invited his brothers-in-law, Irv and Jack Shaffer, to join him in business. That left Born free to pursue his many candy-related inventions, such as a lollipop machine.
Another Born invention was tiny, hot-dog shaped chocolate thingies, which he developed in 1930. What to call them? An employee named James Bartholomew operated the machine making the new candy, so Born named the confection in his honor. He called them "Jimmies."
"Jimmies" is a trademarked name, though you'll get a lot of quizzical looks if you ask for jimmies anywhere but in the Northeast. They're also known as chocolate sprinkles, toppettes, shots, fancies, and trimettes.
The ice-cream soda was invented in 1874. Philadelphian Robert Green was selling a drink made of cream, carbonated water, and syrup. When he ran out of cream, he substituted ice cream - and his daily sales jumped from $6 to $600. Ice-cream sodas were a hit.
But in the 1880s, some communities banned the drinking of "sinful" carbonated beverages on the Sabbath day. And so, the story goes, a clever soda-fountain owner came up with a soda-less soda: ice cream topped with syrup. It was called a "Sunday," which later became "sundae."
You don't have to be a millionaire to afford an ice cream today. For most of recorded human history, though, frozen deserts were the privilege of the wealthy. It was very expensive to harvest ice, transport it, and store it for use in warm weather.