Last night while enjoying our desserts at an Italian restaurant – it was Raelyn’s birthday dinner – Jenn and I got into a discussion about the flavors present in Raelyn’s dish of Spumoni.

I maintained that the flavors were chocolate, pistachio and cherry while Jenn thought just chocolate and pistachio. What about the pink flavor, I asked? Was it Strawberry like in Neapolitan ice cream?

This brought up another point: is Spumoni a form or Ice Cream or Gelato?

Thankfully, Wikipedia exists to help us out.


Spumoni or spumone is a molded Italian ice cream made with layers of different colors and flavors, usually containing candied fruits and nuts. Typically it is of two flavors, with a fruit/nut layer between them. The ice cream layers are often mixed with whipped cream. Chocolate and pistachio are the typical flavors of the ice cream layers, the fruit/nut layer often contains cherry bits.

Ok, so that’s evidence that Spumoni is definitely Ice Cream and that Jenn was correct, two flavors in the ice cream, chocolate and pistachio, but cherries are a component of the more traditional dessert.

I needed more proof, so I clicked on the Neapolitan ice cream link:

Neapolitan ice cream is so called because it is a variant on spumoni, a three-flavored (usually cherry, chocolate, and pistachio) ice cream originally made in Naples. Spumoni was introduced to the United States in the 1870s as Neapolitan-style ice cream. Early recipies used a variety of flavors, however the number of three molded together was a common denominator. More than likely chocolate, vanilla and strawberry became the standard for the reason that they were the most popular flavors in the United States at the time of introduction.

Here we have Wikipedia disagreeing with itself. The Spumoni version Raelyn was eating lacked any striations or layers of nuts and fruit and had three distinct colors/flavors of ice cream – Chocolate, Pistachio and Cherry. Neapolitan, it appears, derived it’s triune format from Spumoni, swapping Pistachio for Vanilla and Cherry for Strawberry.

Whatever the caser may be, Spumoni and Neapolitan are both yummy. Case closed.

One thought on “Spumoni?

  1. I worked at an Italian restaurant for five years before I came to Turner, and over my time there, we carried two different brands of Spumoni. Both had distinct layers of cherry ice cream in the middle. I think the traditional fruit/nut layer has been Americanized into that cherry band. Which is fine for me, as I tend to like Americanized International cuisine. 🙂

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