November is Banana Pudding Lovers Month, which we think is a great time to delve into the history and details of this favorite dessert item. Check out some fun facts about banana pudding, and then try a couple of delicious recipes you can enjoy in your assisted living apartment or whip up in the bistro for a family gathering at Autumn View Gardens.
A History of Banana Pudding in America
Banana pudding didn't exist in America before the Civil War, partly because bananas weren't at all common in the states at that time. In the mid-1800s, the very few bananas that made it to America from locations like the West Indies were treated as rare, exotic fruits to be savored by the rich.
With steamship travel boosting trade later in that century, bananas became a more staple item. By 1874, it was a fruit that was found almost everywhere and could be purchased by people of any means. Millions of bananas began to be imported, and from the end of the 19th century through the 20th century, people began incorporating the fruit into a variety of prepared dishes.
References to banana pudding begin in magazines and newspapers in the late 19th century, but early recipes didn't tend to follow the creamy, cookie-encrusted versions you may be familiar with today. One recipe from a 1888 Good Housekeeping magazine called for layering sponge cake and bananas and then pouring custard over them. The final topping was whipped cream, though, so you can see the modern banana pudding forming.
Other banana pudding recipes through the years included one that baked bananas and sugar before topping the concoction with meringue and those that incorporated ingredients such as orange or lemon juice and gelatin.
Cookies — and especially vanilla wafers — weren't a popular component of banana puddings until the 20th century. In the 1920s, magazines and cookbooks began featuring banana pudding recipes that weren't baked and included vanilla wafers in recipes we'd be more apt to recognize today. And Nabisco, which had launched its Nilla Wafer product, jumped happily on the bandwagon, marketing its cookies as the perfect ingredient in banana pudding. The company still sometimes includes banana pudding recipes on its boxes.
Banana pudding's tale is fairly obvious from that point on. It became a popular treat across the nation and an icon of southern desserts. You'd be hard-pressed to attend a southern potluck that didn't include at least one banana pudding, even today.
A Collection of Banana Pudding Recipes
Now that you know where banana pudding came from, celebrate Banana Pudding Lovers Month by whipping up a cool, sweet treat of your own. We've collected some banana pudding recipes from across the web for you to try.
Easy Banana Pudding: This recipe from Divas Can Cook relies on instant pudding for an easy dish you'll be proud to take to a potluck or serve at a family gathering.
Classic Southern Banana Pudding: Pair this classic recipe with a beautiful trifle dish for an impressive dessert that looks and tastes great.
The Best Banana Pudding; This no-bake recipe takes only about 25 minutes of prep time.
Quick and Easy Banana Pudding: If you need an even easier version, this recipe calls for only 15 minutes of prep and five ingredients.
Bethesda Foundaion is not associated with the Bethesda Health Group of St. Louis, MO.