This was the recent topic of discussion between a friend and I. We remembered the popularity of this ice cream (way) back when we were growing up. This was a popular treat in many American households, before the introduction of SO many other flavors. Then, the choices were simple: vanilla, chocolate, strawberry ice cream OR all three together in Neapolitan ice cream.
But WHY and HOW was it named?
Talking about Neapolitan ice cream made me wonder about its name. Purely for research purposes (of course), I told Grenville that we HAD to buy some — then sample it — again for the sake of research (of course).
ODD, but he didn't have a problem with this project and neither did I, especially when I mentioned that sampling part.
Traditional Neapolitan ice cream consists of blocks of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry ice cream side by side in the same container in brick form. I remembered that it had sheets of packaging in between the flavors similar to waxed paper to separate them. Now, there's usually no packaging between them; some brands even intermix the flavors.
The name Neapolitan has its origins in Naples, Italy (a resident of Naples is a Neapolitan). Naples has a long history of ice cream making where classic tri-colored blocks were created and sold under the name "spumoni," a tricolored, three-flavored (usually cherry, chocolate and pistachio).
Italian immigrants to the United States brought their frozen dessert making skills with them and renamed the product "Neapolitan" in the late 19th century. Spumoni was introduced to the US in the 1870s as "Neapolitan-style" ice cream. Early recipes used a variety of flavors; however the three molded together was a common denominator. Chocolate, vanilla and strawberry were the most popular flavors at the time of its introduction and so became the "standard" flavors — then and still today.
The traditional packaging of Neapolitan ice cream resembles a brick. However, the variety we bought today came an oval container and was labelled "Classic Trio."
Regardless of the packaging, to me it's still Neapolitan ice cream. We did a taste sample to "make sure" it tasted OK.
Doesn't everyone DO that after bringing home ice cream?