The Invention

Portrait of Young David Strickler
Portrait of Young David Strickler

The banana split was invented in 1904 by David Strickler, a young pharmacist’s apprentice who worked at Tassel Pharmacy, formerly located on 805 Ligonier Street. Strickler was tasked with inventing a new ice cream dessert that would attract students from the nearby Saint Vincent College.

Strickler charged ten cents for his new creation, which he called the banana split. Three scoops of ice cream (chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry), topped with pineapple, chocolate, and strawberry syrup, along with chopped nuts, three peaks of whipped cream, and a single cherry. The popularity of the dessert exploded, and in the following years, Strickler acquired the drugstore and renamed it Strickler’s Pharmacy.

Joseph Greubel, better known as “Ice Cream Joe,” was the President of Valley Dairy Restaurants from 1989 to 2009, following in the footsteps of his father, Joseph Sr., who founded the restaurant. Ice Cream Joe was instrumental in developing the Great American Banana Split Celebration, lending his support and expertise to the event planning team.

Arnold Palmer and Ice Cream Joe at historical marker unveiling

Today, Strickler’s Pharmacy has been replaced by a state historical marker, and an oversized statue of Strickler’s creation. The National Association of Ice Cream Retailers has recognized Latrobe as the birthplace of the banana split, and August 25 has been declared “National Banana Split Day” by the Pennsylvania State Government.

Today, you can still enjoy an authentic banana split in it’s birthplace at Valley Dairy restaurant, which serves up Strickler’s invention daily.

Since 2013, The Greater Latrobe-Laurel Valley Chamber of Commerce has hosted the annual Great American Banana Split Celebration in late August. The celebration attracts thousands of people to Latrobe every year for a weekend of activities, music, games, and fun!