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Thursday, April 16, 2020

A to Z Historic Trivia - N


Besides plain strawberry, Neapolitan is my favorite ice cream because I like the assortment. The idea of combined flavors was Introduced in 1870 by immigrants from Naples known for their excellent frozen desserts. Early recipes used a variety of flavors, but the use of only three at a time was a tribute to the Italian flag. Chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry happened to be American favorites at the time, and thus became standard Neapolitan flavors.
I was intrigued to find that Neapolitan is also a (mainly) southern Italian Romance Language, dating back to the 1500s. While the language has no official status and is not taught in Italian schools, it has, over the years, enjoyed a rich musical, theatrical, and literary history.
Luigi Negrelli  was a Tyrolean civil and hydraulic engineer who designed many bridges and railways throughout the Austrian Empire, including the highly debated Suez Canal which was the possibly the last project he ever planned before his untimely death. However, prior to his death, Negrelli did provide a compelling response to questions regarding the necessity and feasibility of his vision: “Connection of two seas by a maritime canal, shortening the route between Europe and rich countries of the Old World located at the Indian Ocean,”
Nabisco certainly has a long and storied history.  In 1792, a family of bakers set about providing durable sea biscuits for sailors on long journeys. By 1889, the family had incorporated additional bakers, created a crispy wafer they dubbed the “Cracker,” and were exploring better packaging options for their growing list of products. Within a year, forty more bakeries had joined the conglomerate, and by 1898, the newly formed National Biscuit Company had an impressive total of 114 bakeries on board.
Over the next several decades, Nabisco kept expanding not only their own product line but in the acquisition of numerous companies, other products as well, including Milk-Bone, and Shredded Wheat. In 1981, they acquired the maker of Planters Nuts and merged with R.J. Reynolds, adding Grey Poupon and A-1 Steak Sauce to their portfolio.
October 1988 saw the beginnings of the most expensive takeover battles in history waged against RJR Nabisco. The drawn-out debacle is grippingly detailed in a book entitled: “Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco” as well as in a Made-for-TV film by the same name.


  1. Hi, diedre!

    Yummy yummy yummy, dear friend. I wish I had some Neapolitan in my tummy. It's interesting that Neapolitan ice cream was limited to a mix of three flavors as a tribute to the Italian flag and that the word also makes reference to a southern Italian Romance Language that is traced back to the 16th century.

    I enjoyed learning about Negrelli. I am in awe of engineers who can plan and construct bridges, railways, canals and other grand scale structures for passage. I wouldn't know where to begin.

    Thanks for chronicling the evolution of Nabisco. I wasn't aware the company is behind so many familiar brands of products. I'm going to look for Barbarians at the Gate because Mrs. Shady and I enjoy watching documentaries about inventors, entrepreneurs, big business and corporate takeovers throughout modern history.

    Have a safe and happy day, dear friend diedre!

    1. Hi Shady!

      Glad you enjoyed! Talking about ice cream made me want some too ;-) I can't wait to be able to get out to get some.

      I provided only an excerpt of Negrelli's document, but there is so much passion in his words.

      Do let me know if you run across "Barbarians at the Gate," I'm sure I'd enjoy it.

      Thank you for your thoughts!

  2. Hi Diedre - fun to read your early take ... I remember Neopolitan Icecream coming in as a luxury when I was growing up ... as too different biscuits ... Nostalgia - for sure! All the best - Hilary

    1. Hi Hilary!

      Glad you enjoyed! Neapolitan was special at our house as well. I'm not sure I'd care for sea biscuits.

      Thank you for visiting!


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