A Classic Combination

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Photo by Alicia Conti
Photo by Alicia Conti

In the early 19th Century, confectionary chefs from Naples had become known across Europe for their innovative dessert creations. With arrival of the Italian Diaspora, Neapolitan bakers and chefs were moving into US cities. In the 1870s, one of the most well-known ice cream combinations around the world was introduced: Neapolitan ice cream.

The origins of this classic dessert can be found in the treat known as Spumoni. Spumoni is made of three flavors of ice cream, fruit, and nuts. Early on, the flavors were chosen to match the colors of the Italian flag. Other foods in Italy follow the same formula, called “Insalata Tricolores”. Though soon the flavors of pistachio, lemon, and cherry were replaced by America’s favorites: chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry.

Caprese salad Photo by Larry Hoffman
Caprese salad
Photo by Larry Hoffman

Patrons in the US loved this layered dessert and named it after those making it: Neapolitan. Quickly, it grew in popularity with boxes of it being sold by 1885, and “icey cones” being sold by 1894. From the 1920s onward, banana splits were known for having Neapolitan scoops. Finally, it was freeze dried and sent into space on the Apollo 7 mission! Wherever the flavor goes now, it’s definitely here to stay.

Though freeze-dried ice cream was too crumbly, so it never returned to space.
Though freeze-dried ice cream was too crumbly, so it never returned to space.

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