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Practicing Dessert Awareness: The Knickerbocker Glory

Posted: 12/10/2013 4:34 pm

Glorify: to cause to be or treat as being more splendid, excellent, etc., than would normally be considered; to honor with praise, admiration, or worship; extol; to make glorious; invest with glory. - Dictionary.com

Have you ever looked at a menu in a restaurant and come across something that you have not heard of before, didn't ask about and just passed on? It happens. No, it is not such a big deal, but you never know what you are missing, especially when it comes to desserts. No one likes to miss out on a special dessert. Practicing dessert awareness can help with this not-so-serious issue. So, for your dessert pleasure -- introducing (not necessarily for the very first time) The Knickerbocker Glory.

Unless you are from the United Kingdom, more often than not when you hear the words "Knickerbocker Glory," the term is a mystery. Most people are unaware that they have been missing a glorious treat. If you are in the UK, the response is likely to be an affirmation of something wonderful. Perhaps it invokes stories of a day at the seashore (where the original Knickerbocker Glory was invented) or, more recently, a recount of other worldly wizarding moments a la Harry Potter. The Knickerbocker Glory is a tall, layered ice cream concoction that is believed to be as British as the Queen, although there is some suggestion that the dessert's start is as American as apple pie. While The Knickerbocker Glory seems to have had its start and been popularized in Britain in the 1930s, a reference to a layered ice cream dessert called The Knickerbocker appears prior to this in a U.S. publication in 1915. The reference is found in a guide for making products sold at soda fountains by the now mostly extinct soda jerks, the people who served various soda drinks and ice cream sundaes in soda fountains around the country. A copy of the original recipe is here. Another consumable Knickerbocker of an alcoholic kind was also known about prior to 1915. The cocktail called a Knickerbocker, a rum-based drink with raspberry, orange and lime flavors, is referenced in a book called How to Mix Drinks or Bon Vivant's Companion authored by Jerry Thomas and published in 1862. If it were the alcoholic Knickerbocker that was the precursor to The Knickerbocker Glory, it would likely have wielded its influence in the mid to late 1930s. As America was under the prohibition of alcohol from 1920 until 1933, the Knickerbocker rum drink was likely not being served or experienced publicly until after this time period.

Given the name, it certainly would make sense that The Knickerbocker Glory had its start in America. The name "Knickerbocker" is associated with the first settlers of New Amsterdam (now Manhattan) from Holland. Theories abound about the dessert. Perhaps the dessert's name is a reference to Diedrich Knickerbocker, the pseudonym used by Washington Irving for the book A History of New York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty published in 1809. This seems like a very early reference to have heavily influenced the name of the dessert, though. Or, perhaps it pays homage to the striped sports garments called knickerbockers. Either way, we do know that the name, "Knickerbocker," stuck as a classic way of referring to both New York and New Yorkers, so it is almost certain that the treat had its start in the United States. Perhaps it is a tall dessert because it pays homage to the Empire State Building. Completed in 1931, it was the tallest building in the world. Maybe it was dubbed Knickerbocker Glory to memorialize a fine time had in New York bouncing from soda fountain to soda fountain. When exactly and by whom the Knickerbocker was "Glorified" remains a mystery. Nobody knows who brought the idea from America, added "glory" to the name or put it on its journey to becoming a British classic.

The power of the Knickerbocker Glory is in the fact that there is no original recipe. It is enough to know that this ice cream dessert should have many layers, is served in tall glasses and should be eaten with a long spoon. From here, a huge number of Knickerbocker Glories can be created. It is a dessert that knows no bounds as it can range in flavor from a Citrus Explosion to something different - like a White Chocolate Pretzel or Pumpkin Spice Knickerbocker Glory -- whatever your imagination can dream up. When these tall, layered desserts are presented they capture your attention and make dessert a real wow moment! Don't miss out!

Isn't practicing dessert awareness fun! Next time we practice dessert awareness -- Indian Burfi. Yum!

Are you aware of the Knickerbocker Glory? Have you had one before? Let us know about it in comments.

 
 
 

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