How Every U.S. State Takes Its Ice Cream Sundaes

A header image for a survey about sundae preferences by state

A perfect summertime dessert made just how you want it! Sundaes give you the opportunity to take your ice cream to the next level with a variety of ways to customize it and make it that much tastier. Being able to enjoy a bowl full of your favorite ice cream with hand-picked toppings with your friends, family, or partner is one way to create memories you won’t soon forget.

All this talk of summertime sweets got us thinking, what goes into the perfect ice cream sundae? And how do those tastes change around the country? Well, here at Shane Co. we decided to find out by asking people what base ice cream flavor a sundae should be, what toppings belong on it, and what sauces or drizzles are must-haves. Read on to find out the fixings your state most frequently puts on its sundaes.

Ice Cream Sundae Preferences by State

There are endless possibilities for creating the ice cream sundae of your dreams. Consider your base ice cream flavor, loaded with your favorite candy toppings, and drizzled with the syrup and fudge of your choice. Our mouths are watering just thinking about it! But the fun with sundaes doesn’t stop there. You have to decide how you’re going to finish it off. With sprinkles? Whipped cream? A cherry? That’s the fun of a sundae, it’s all up to you. And the good news is, there’s no wrong answer … unless, of course, you don’t have one at all!

There was one very common theme in our survey, and it’s that vanilla ice cream is king when it comes to sundaes. It was the top ice cream flavor choice in every state we surveyed. Another commonality is that every state also finishes their sundae off with whipped cream, and all but two states, Utah and Wisconsin, top their sundae off with a cherry. You may find it as shocking as we did that most states prefer to include no sprinkles at all!

To find out where the true sundae lovers reside, we also asked survey respondents how much they like ice cream sundaes on a scale of 1 to 10. Ohio loves sundaes more than any other state, giving an average rating of 8.96 out of 10, followed very closely by Delaware (8.93/10) and Indiana (8.9/10). Michigan, on the other hand, is the state that’s least infatuated with ice cream sundaes. They had an average rating of 7.7 out of 10 (which, honestly, is still pretty high!).

Use our interactive map below to find out which toppings, sauces, and finishers your state likes the most when crafting its perfect ice cream sundae.

Unique Combinations

Overall, our survey respondents agreed on a few things. Vanilla ice cream is the best flavor for a sundae, chopped nuts and crumbled Oreos are must-have toppings, and hot fudge is the ideal sauce or drizzle option to give your sundae that little bit of extra flavor. We wanted to highlight a few of the more unique sundae combinations from the survey. According to our survey, these five states crafted sundaes that were the most different from the others.

A graphic showing the most popular sundae topping choices in Utah

Word around the streets is that Salt Lake City, Utah, is known for having some of the best ice cream in the United States, so they must know how to make a delicious sundae. Utah’s perfect sundae is topped with crushed Oreos, chopped nuts, toffee bits, bananas, chocolate syrup, and whipped cream. People in Utah tended to opt out of finishing their sundae with sprinkles or a cherry. Bananas are a popular topping choice in 13 states, and the addition of toffee pieces makes this combination even more unique, given that only four states include toffee in their sundaes.

A graphic showing the most popular sundae topping choices in Oklahoma

Along with Utah, Oklahoma is one of the four states to choose toffee bits as one of their favorite sundae toppings. The other toffee-loving states include Nebraska and New Hampshire. Oklahoma likes to pair them up with chopped nuts, chocolate chips, and Reese’s candy. A caramel drizzle is the Oklahoman choice for sauce, and they like a classic whipped cream and cherry finish. It sounds like the ultimate Instagram-worthy sundae to us (except for the noticeable lack of sprinkles).

A graphic showing the most popular sundae topping choices in New Hampshire.

New Hampshire has a similar sundae preference to Oklahoma, though they prefer to keep it even more chocolatey. They replace the chopped nuts with chocolate chips, include hot fudge instead of caramel, and add chocolate sprinkles to the mix. Crumbled Oreos, chocolate chips, toffee bits, Reese’s candy, hot fudge, chocolate sprinkles (finally!), and topped with whipped cream and a cherry. A chocolate-lover’s dream.

Up for a challenge? New Hampshire is home to a sundae challenge called the Mt. Monadnock Sundae, which includes 35 scoops, hot fudge, caramel, chocolate rocks, whipped cream, and a chocolate moose on top!

A graphic showing the most popular sundae topping choices in Nevada

Nevada is another chocolate-loving state. Everything in Las Vegas is bigger and better, especially the sundaes! For example, a club called LAVO serves an $800 boozy 18-scoop sundae. While it may not be the $800 monstrosity linked above, Nevada still puts together a pretty tasty one according to our survey. It includes chopped nuts, Reese’s candy, M&M’s, chocolate chips, hot fudge, whipped cream, and a cherry to finish it off. It looks like Nevada also forgot the sprinkles.

A graphic showing the most popular sundae topping choices in Texas

Another state with a unique combination of sundae toppings is Texas. This is the state with the most colorful sundae palette. Texas’ sundae is vanilla ice cream topped with chopped nuts, chocolate chips, crumbled Oreos, and berries. It’s served with hot fudge, whipped cream, rainbow sprinkles (hooray!), and a cherry on top. Texas and Kansas were the only two states that included berries as a topping, making Texas’ sundae one of the most interesting in the country!

America’s Favorite Sundae Ingredients

A treemap showing the popularity of different sundae toppings in the U.S.

We can’t really argue with the selections for the most popular sundae toppings from our survey. Out of 46 states surveyed, here are the top-ranked toppings by the number of states that would add them to their sundae: chopped nuts (43 states), crumbled Oreos (40 states), chocolate chips (35 states), and Reese’s candy (30 states).

We were, however, a little surprised that classic sundae toppings like bananas and M&Ms weren’t more popular among our survey respondents. Toffee bits, peanut butter chips, berries, and crushed cookies are several of the toppings that are liked but not loved by Americans, only mentioned on occasion as ingredients that belong in a perfect sundae.

Perhaps the biggest surprise from the survey was the feeling many Americans have when it comes to the inclusion of sprinkles on an ice cream sundae. Over half (51%) of our survey respondents opted out of sprinkles altogether! Call us old-fashioned, but a sundae is not complete without sprinkles, whether chocolate, rainbow, or otherwise. 

Finally, let’s take a closer look at the delicious sauces that can pull the entire sundae together. The most popular in 40 states is hot fudge, which makes sense considering timeless classics such as the hot fudge sundae! The next most popular sauces are chocolate sauce in 22 states and caramel sauce in 27 states, which make a fantastic combination or are delicious on their own. Finally, the least popular additions that you can make to your ice cream masterpiece are marshmallow and strawberry sauce. Shockingly, these delicious sundae sauces did not rank in any surveyed U.S. state.

Methodology

We surveyed 2,190 people across 46 states over a week in May 2022 to find out what goes into the perfect ice cream sundae by asking their preferences for ice cream flavors, toppings, sauces, sprinkles, whipped cream, and cherry usage. Based on the responses we received, we were able to determine the most popular kind of ice cream sundae in each state. We also found the states that like ice cream sundaes the most.

States not included due to not enough survey respondents: Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming.

Final Thoughts

If your love story is a delicious, handcrafted ice cream sundae, then the sprinkles are the countless little memories you make along the way that stick with you forever. They come in different flavors, shapes, and sizes, but they add that much-needed texture to the dish. They tie the whole thing together. They make the sundae what it is. In fact, we would say that the sprinkles are the most important part of the sundae. 

So when you’re crafting your own love-story sundae, don’t forget to enjoy the sprinkles! And when the time comes, Shane Co. has a selection of engagement rings to add the most special sprinkle to the top of your ice cream sundae.


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