The Frozen Banana Treat That Started On A California Island

Frozen desserts bring out the kid in everyone. When the temperature spikes, a creamy milkshake or a double-scoop ice cream cone will cool down even the hottest tamale. And we can thank those of old and recent history for introducing the world to some of the most beloved ice-cold, sweet treats. According to PBS, even though ice cream is credited to China's Tang Dynasty which ruled from 618 to 907 A.D., popsicles were the invention of an 11-year-old boy in Oakland, California. According to History, in 1905 he unwittingly created the frozen confection when he left a glass of water mixed with powdered soda mix and a stirring stick outside overnight in freezing temperatures. Further, Hankering for History reports that it was in 1922 that a Walgreens soda fountain employee looking to enhance the company's chocolate malt beverage blended ice cream scoops created the first milkshake.

It should come as no surprise then that another one of summer's most beloved frozen treats was created in sunny Southern California, where it's almost always warm enough for a cold bite. The frozen banana has become the darling dessert of state fairs and carnivals all across the country (not to mention a Disneyland favorite), but less than 100 years ago, it was only just being discovered in a tiny seaside hamlet just outside of Newport Beach in Orange County, California.

Going bananas

Balboa Island is a manmade community comprised of three small islands. While you can take a ferry or drive there from the mainland city of Newport Beach, it's so close that many people opt to walk or bike over a short bridge to the charming town. Cottages and homes there sell for well over $1 million, and the harbor is peppered with sailboats and yachts, per The New York Times. It draws in tourists with its shoreline location, shops, watersports, restaurants, and famous Ferris wheel, per Visit Newport Beach. While there is some debate on who officially discovered frozen bananas, which are made by dipping in chocolate and covering them with nuts or candies, Balboa Island is not shy about laying a claim on the treat.

According to Smithsonian, Don Phillips opened up a frozen banana stand just across from Balboa Island around 1940 with other eateries following suit including Sugar n' Spice and Dad's Donuts, both of which still exist today. In the early 1960s, a man named Bob Teller opened his frozen banana shop when Don Phillip's original stand closed. It was Teller who got Disney to take notice and began selling his bananas to their flagship amusement park, thus, increasing the treat's popularity throughout Southern California and to tourists from all over. Teller ended up selling his company in the 70s, but the frozen banana became a Balboa Island icon that continues to delight people decades later.