From Ohio History Central
In 1907, Ernest R. Hazard supposedly invented the banana split. He owned a restaurant in Wilmington, Ohio, and he hoped that a new ice cream treat would attract students from Wilmington College.
According to legend, Hazard sponsored a competition to invent the new treat. Hazard's design featured a banana that was split in half, three scoops of ice cream, with chocolate sauce, pineapple, strawberry topping, nuts, and whipped cream placed on top. Hazard also added two red cherries to crown his dessert. Hazard won the competition, and business increased at the restaurant. To honor Hazard's invention, Wilmington hosts the Banana Split Festival every June.
Despite Wilmington's claim that Hazard invented the banana split, it appears that David Strickler actually invented the dessert in 1904. Strickler worked at a pharmacy in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and he invented the treat to increase business.