The Glories of Knickers & Bockers


My sister and I share the same birthday, three years apart. And five minutes, if you want to be precise.

K N birthday 6

Check out the train cake! And the party hats! And mum’s hair!

When we were young, we’d have joint birthday parties at which we played all the usual games – musical statues, pin the tail on the donkey, pass the parcel…

  K N birthday 2

We’d wear our favourite party clothes… I still remember the pale yellow lace dress with a wide ribbon tied at the back, which was handed down to my sister after I tearfully outgrew it.

K N birthday 1

Red pop!

One year mum made us satin jumpsuits, mine was baby blue and my sister’s was pale pink.

K N birthday 4

My younger sister wearing the yellow lace dress! Mum watching me blow out the candles!

Mum would make us fantastic themed birthday cakes such as fairy castles, ladybirds and trains.

K N birthday 3

Me in the baby blue satin jumpsuit! Sister in the pink one!

And we would help mum make Knickerbocker glories, to serve at the party.

A Knickerbocker glory is essentially an ice cream sundae, served in a tall glass that is narrow at the bottom and flared at the top. There isn’t an exact recipe, but as far as I’m concerned, ice cream, jelly, tinned fruit and a syrupy sauce are essential. A cherry on the top is a classic decorative touch, and a little whipped cream doesn’t go amiss either!

One theory is that the name derives from knickerbockers – baggy, knee-length trousers worn by children, particularly boys. In the first half of the 20th Century, young boys traditionally wore shorts in summer and knickerbockers in winter, graduating to long trousers only once they older. (In my childhood, during the ’70s, we called those peddle pushers and I was particularly fond of my maroon velvet pair, which I thought very fetching indeed.)

An alternative suggestion for the derivation of the name comes from America, where early settlers from Holland to New York, then known as Nieuw Amsterdam, were called knickerbockers. In either case, there’s no obvious link between either the shorts or the Dutch immigrants and this ice cream sundae.

As kids, we’d build up the knickerbocker glories layer by layer, perhaps a layer of strawberry jelly with tinned mandarin segments, then a layer of vanilla ice cream, followed by a different coloured jelly…


The Gupta Family Knickerbocker Glory

Ingredients – your choice of:
Tinned fruits
Fresh fruits
Broken meringue
Ice cream
Whipped Cream
Chocolate or fruit sauce


  • Start with fruit and one of the jellies, and leave to set in the fridge.
  • Add additional meringue, fruit and jelly layers as you like.
  • Add ice cream, whipped cream, sauce and cherries just before serving.

KnickerbockerGlory-9968 KnickerbockerGlory-9971 KnickerbockerGlory-9973 Knickerbockerglory-9995


This is my own entry for the March Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream event.

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13 Comments to "The Glories of Knickers & Bockers"

  1. Mamta

    These pictures bring back so many memories. I remember stitching that yellow lace dress with lining (the lace kept slipping and it took me hours to get it right) and those satin jump suits and so many other dresses for you both. I used to enjoy sewing then. Those parties were great fun, happy days! We had so much fun making those cakes, didn’t we and the Knickerbocker Glories! I haven’t bought that chocolate sauce for years! Yours are looking great. Love. mum

  2. kaveyeats

    Hi Ma! Yeah, Neet and I looooved the clothes and dresses, and the cakes, and the other cooking…

  3. Laura@howtocookgoodfood

    What a brilliant post! Your satin jumpsuits are fantastic. I would have been so envious of you as I remember having some satin shorts but not a whole suit!
    Love your knickerbocker glories, a perfect treat that I used to love myself. Must get hold of some sundae glasses like yours :-)x

  4. Kathryn

    I’m so jealous that you had a satin jumpsuit, I would have loved one when I was younger! I love nostalgic treats like this, you can’t beat that combination of jelly and ice cream.

  5. Fuss Free Helen

    I also had some maroon velvet knickerbockers, and very very proud I was of them too!

    I used to beg to be taken to the Wimpey Bar for kickerbocker glories, and also used to find it hysterically funny to call them knickerblocker glories.

    Yours look fab. I am wondering if there is scope for a vodka jelly based one?

  6. kaveyeats

    Laura, yeah mum was dab hand with sewing machine, she made us loads of fantastic clothes… used to help cutting out patterns and stuff too. The sundae glasses were a gift from my little sis!

    Kathryn, there’s much love for those jump suits! 🙂 Yes, nostalgia rocks!

    Helen, that’s a great idea, an adults’ knickerbocker glory, love it!

  7. Miss Whiplash

    I love knickerbocker glories – we used occasionally to hit Marine Ices when we were little and these were always on the list of Amazing Things to Eat there.
    I’ve never had a jelly based one, but I do love jelly, so I can totally get on board with it 🙂

    We had train cakes too – one of the best things about having children is SURELY the scope for great birthday cakes – it’s almost tempting 😉

  8. Carla

    Oh, that satin jumpsuit is a beauty!

    Now you speak of Knickerbocker Glories I have had a memory of a Panamanian version my grandpa used to buy for me on special occasions…
    Ah, to be a child again!

  9. Jeanne @ CookSister!

    omg I LOVE those photos! And hilariously, I have some similar ones somewhere – kids around a kitchen table blowing out candles, parents hovering in the background, kids sitting in a circle playing party games… Good times, good times. I never owned a pair of knickerbockers but I salute your brave and cutting edge fashion choices 😉

  10. Dominic

    oh my god… divine!… this is just how I remember them!… I love those photo’s of you on your birthdays… I have very similar pictures from my youth and I even have one of me with a chocolate train cake that my mum made for me too!… i’ve made my choc orange stuff… will post on Saturday x

  11. Ren Behan

    Love the old photos and the knickerbockers look wonderful! Perfect glasses – I didn’t have the right ones for my banana splits! Need to see if I can find some of my old party pics. Love the jumpsuit. I had a pink towelling one!

  12. kaveyeats

    MissW, I would still love a train cake. Or a fish one. Or any fab shaped cake! 🙂

    Carla, why thank you. I’m not sure I could pull the satin jumpsuit off any more, though!

    Jeanne, I want to see your photos, now!

    Dominic, I wonder if our mums had the same book on making kids’ cakes?

    Ren, yes old party pics sounds good.

    LL, we had some great cakes, totally!


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