In June 1986, Traverse Magazine columnist Thomas BeVier noted a long-standing Traverse City tradition—to be accepted into polite Traverse City society, one must eat Monkey Tails.

For those who haven’t had the distinct pleasure yet, a Monkey Tail is a Bardon’s Wonder Freeze specialty, still sold today at the Traverse City ice cream shop on Front Street. What exactly is it? A frozen banana dipped in hot chocolate and rolled in crushed nuts.

Bardon’s, which opened in 1951, was recently sold in March 2020 to lifelong customers David and Dawnette Wessell, who plan to keep on making Monkey Tails at the Sputnik-topped dairy bar. Sputnik was placed on the roof by the original owners, Orrin and Nella Bardon, who purchased it as “a good-humored reminder of the Eisenhower years when the Russians beat out the United States with Sputnik,” Thomas wrote in the 1986 issue. And Dawnette confirms, Sputnik is staying.

Now, get on over to Bardon’s, order a Monkey Tail and become a part of a decades-long summer tradition.

Photo(s) by Katy Joe