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For 35 years, this couple has been celebrating their anniversary with a banana split

Brad and Susan Wall have been together for 35 years.
Brad and Susan Wall
Brad and Susan Wall have been together for 35 years.

For Brad and Susan Wall, a banana split from Dairy Queen is their version of a time machine.

"No matter how much we've grown and changed over the years, this brings back that fresh puppy love we had way back when," Susan, an event manager in Toronto, told NPR.

It all started on Aug. 21, 1987 in Canada's capital, Ottawa. Brad, who was 19, and Susan, who was 20, found themselves in the same friend group while attending a concert at the annual Central Canada Exhibition.

Brad quickly took notice of Susan's bubbly personality; she was intrigued by his admiration of the concert's sound and lighting equipment. (He would later become an audio visual technician.)

At the end of the night, Brad, Susan and their friends made a pit stop to Dairy Queen, where Susan ordered a banana split for the table to share. Brad was the only one who took her up on the offer.

At the time, neither Brad nor Susan meant for the gesture to be romantic. But by the next year, they were in a relationship, and shared a split to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the first night they met. Even then, the two could not foresee how meaningful the tradition would become.

Brad and Susan met during college at a summer concert in Ottawa, Canada.
/ Brad and Susan Wall
Brad and Susan Wall
Brad and Susan met during college at a summer concert in Ottawa, Canada.

The two later married and moved to Toronto, and their tradition continued. When Brad was in Montreal for work, the two visited Dairy Queens in their respective cities and ate the dessert over the phone. Another year, when Brad's job took him to Dubai, Susan went to Dairy Queen by herself — taking a single bite and putting the rest in the freezer for when he returned home a few days later. And during the first year of the pandemic, the two ordered a banana split to go.

"It's such a cherished activity that we can't imagine skipping it," Susan said.

Dairy Queen, for their part, sent along their congratulations to the couple in a statement to NPR. "We know our DQ Banana Split is special and now we see that it's one of the keys to lasting love!" said Maria Hokanson, Executive Vice President for Marketing in U.S. and Canada.

Susan and Brad do not consider themselves creatures of habit. Aside from this tradition, they cannot think of another one they take seriously or consistently. All that to say, they continue to go, but not just for tradition's sake.

Sitting across from each other, leaning over with two plastic spoons buried in vanilla ice cream, the two are transported back to the first night they met.

"It still feels the same," Susan said. "It's still young love."

For Brad, their tradition is a chance to forget the tasks and stress of the day and relive their favorite memories. He said he also enjoys seeing how excited his wife gets every August.

"No matter what else is going on, when it comes time for the banana split, we forget all of that, and we remember what's important," Brad said.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Juliana Kim
Juliana Kim is a weekend reporter for Digital News, where she adds context to the news of the day and brings her enterprise skills to NPR's signature journalism.