Apple pie might get the nod as the most iconic American dessert. But there's a case to be made for the banana split in all its sloppy excess. Why settle for a single scoop when you can have three flavors lavished with pineapple, chocolate, strawberries, nuts, whipped cream and a maraschino cherry?
And why settle for a one-day celebration when you can party for three days? Which is what the southwestern Pennsylvania city of Latrobe will be doing Friday through Sunday when it hosts the Great American Banana Split Celebration in a salute to the dessert that was invented at a local pharmacy 109 years ago.
The National Ice Cream Retailers Association certified Latrobe as the birthplace of the banana split in 2004 when the city celebrated the 100th anniversary of its debut at the former Tassel Pharmacy. It was created by David Strickler, an apprentice pharmacist who later went on to buy the pharmacy. The building is long gone, but the state of Pennsylvania has provided a historical marker for the spot, which will be unveiled on Friday.
Weekend highlights include what's being billed as the world's largest banana split bar, a banana-themed street fair and a yellow-tie gala.
And in another time-honored American twist, the festivities have a corporate sponsor, Dole Fresh Fruit, which according to a press release, promises to "introduce healthier versions of the famously decadent sundae with less calories and fat."
Let's just hope they don't ruin a good thing.
Most of the events are free and open to the public. Local businesses, including hotels, are offering event-themed packages and other promotions.
Jayne Clark , USA TODAY