Variations on banana bread have been around forever, or so it seems. What food historians know, but can't explain, is that traditional banana bread enjoyed a sudden surge of popularity in the 1960s, despite a plethora of newly available cake and bread mixes. Its practicality (enabling conscious consumers to use up nearly rotting fruit), simple recipe and comforting aroma are all important factors, but they nevertheless fail to really account for banana bread's rising star.
The favoritism may come down to something as simple and undefinable as taste. Like most sweet, cakey things, banana bread's really easy to personalize -- just add more sweets. The 1962 edition of "The Good Housekeeping Cook Book" included recipes that added apricots and prunes in addition to the more common date and nut variations. Newer recipes include peanut butter or chocolate chips to capitalize on the kid-friendly appeal of such flavor combinations.