I have re-discovered the ultimate pleasure of a big tasty banana split ice cream dessert. Last Labor Day weekend I was at Bobby Van’s with two other couples when it was time to order dessert. At first no one was brave enough or even wanted to order anything, but I love dessert. I announced I am ordering a banana split and if anyone wants to sample a taste they’re more than welcome to. The consensus was to order two of them and share.
Usually, articles about fancy Hampton’s desserts are about famous pastry chefs and their prize creations. This is purely about banana splits and the joy they have given over the years to everyone who ever ordered one.
Growing up there was a luncheonette and ice cream parlor chain named Jahn’s that specialized in ice cream desserts. They were located all over the New York Metropolitan area. The big thrill was when you went there on your birthday and brought proof, like your driver’s license (Jr. N.Y.S. 16yrs old in my time) you were entitled to a free “Kitchen’s Sink,” ice cream dessert. It consisted of 30 scoops of ice cream with every sauce, toppings, and lots of whip cream! Jahn’s was founded by John Jahn in the old time Bronx in 1897 and was passed on to three of his offspring’s. To me it was known for its massive Kitchen Sink sundae, easily shared by four to eight people. There were up to thirty Jahn’s at one time and now there is but one actually still operating in Queens.
I remember strutting in after midnight as it became my birthday with a few friends and attacking our free “kitchen sink!”
Over the last seventeen years in the Hamptons, some of those years actually doing restaurant revues for printed weekly publications I never ordered a banana split for dessert. Not even when I did a few articles on the famous “Kandy Kitchen,” in Bridgehampton. Yet there I was ordering one very publicly in front of good friends along with my wife Cindi who always says “her favorite dessert is a taste of someone else’s.” That is why I felt at home offering mine to everyone. When everyone said they would love that we smartly ordered another.
For those who have forgotten, a traditional banana split consist of multiple (3) scoops of ice cream wedged between usually cut longitudinally banana wedges and topped with ample amounts whipped cream, chocolate sauce, nuts, and cherries. Legend and google reports that one Chester Platt, a druggist in the university town of Ithaca, New York is the person widely credited with inventing all types of ice cream sundae’s including the banana split variation back in 1892!
After requesting extra plates to go around the table, I alone first attacked the banana split, but soon everyone had their spoons carving out their helpings, including my lovely wife Cindi. Next the sugar induced conversation was about our childhoods and favorite ice cream stories. It was then I recalled my Jahn’s story and was surprised everyone had one. The “kitchen sink,” at Jahn’s seems to be a bonding story for all us sixty-something and beyond folks. It was wonderful to watch all of us enjoy a dessert that brought back great stories of our childhoods and best of times with our parents, and our families. It easily was a special way to cap off our 2021 Labor Day Saturday night.
The sequel to the story is while recanting the pleasure of that evening a few nights later at MJ Dowling’s, in Sag Harbor, with famed photojournalist and “Futurist” Roger Sichel, who was also at Bobby Vans that night, this happened. When the dessert menu came around we saw banana split and once again indulged. Hopefully this will not become a new habit.