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Ice Cream Day
"I guess ice cream is one of those things that are beyond imagination. "
~L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables, 1908
Frozen dessert ices are believed to have been invented around 500 BC in ancient Persia by combining ice with with rosewater, saffron, or other fruits as a dessert for royalty. Not until the late18th and 19th centuries, did ices and ice creams became popularized and available to the larger population, through printed recipes or specialty ice cream parlours. Neapolitan ice cream (also known as Harlequin ice cream) was introduced in the United States in the 1870s as an ice cream version of Spumoni, a fruit/nut layered dessert representing the Italian flag: green (pistachio or almond), white (vanilla), and red (cherry, actually pink). 🍨
Neapolitan ice cream, sometimes known as harlequin ice cream, is a flavor of ice cream made up of three separate flavored blocks of vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry ice cream side by side in the same container. Historically, colours were of the Italian flag: green (pistachio or almond), white (vanilla), and red (cherry, actually pink).
Regional variations now occur; In Ireland, the most popular Neapolitan brand uses vanilla, strawberry and lemon flavour ice cream!
Neapolitan ice cream was named in the late 19th century as a reflection of its presumed origins in the cuisine of the Italian city of Naples, and the many Neapolitan immigrants who brought their expertise in frozen desserts with them to the United States. Spumoni (the ancestor of Neapolitan ice cream, a three flavors dessert, with a fruit/nut layer between them often with whipped cream) was introduced to the United States in the 1870s in the form of a Neapolitan-style ice cream.
Early recipes used a variety of flavors. However, the number of three molded together was the original common denominator meant to resemble the Italian flag. It is believed that chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry became the current standard as they were the most popular flavors in the United States at the time of introduction.
This tartan, by designer Carol A.L. Martin, includes the colors of a classic Neapolitan ice cream, with a spumoni green layer.
For a whole set of delicious ideas inspired by Neapolitan ice cream, including cupcakes, ice cream cake, doughnuts, and macarons, click the ice cream.