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 was introduced to the United States in the 1870s as Neapolitan-style ice cream. Early recipes 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.
"(18th century) confectioners's shops (were) very often run by Italians. Consequently ice creams were often called "Italian ice creams" or "Neapolitan ice creams" throughout the 19th century, and the purveying of such confections became associated with Italian immigrants."
"Neapolitan ice cream, different flavored layers frozen together....[was] being first being talked about in the 1870s."
1885 - "Neapolitan or Pinachee Cream Ice"
"You must have a Neapolitan box for this ice and fill it up in 3 or 4 layers with different coloured and flavoured ice creams (a water ice may be used with the custards); for instance, lemon, vanilla, chocolate, and pistachio. Mould in the patent ice cave for about 1½ to 2 hours, turn it out, cut it in slices, and arrange neatly on the dish, on a napkin or dish-paper."
1894 - "Neapolitan Icey Cones"
"These are prepared by putting ices of various kinds and colors into a mold known as a Neapolitan ice box, which, when set and turned out, is cut into slices suitable for serving. However small the pieces, the block should be cut so that each person gets some of each kind. They are generally laid on a lace paper on an ice plate. Four or five kinds are usually put in the mold, though three sorts will do. The following will serve as a guide in arranging: First, vanilla cream, then raspberry or cherry or currant water; coffee or chocolate in the middle; the strawberry cream, with lemon or orange or pineapple water to finish. A cream ice flavored with any liqueur, a brown bread cream flavored with brandy, with a couple of bright-colored water ices, form another agreeable mixture. Tea cream may be introduced into almost any combination unless coffee were used. Banana cream, pistachio, or almond cream with cherry water and damson or strawberry water are other options.
The Neapolitan Ice Spoon has a double use; the bowl is for putting the mixture into the mold, and the handle is for leveling it. The boxes may be made of tin, which is less expensive than pewter. They are generally sold small enough to make single ices, but these are much more troublesome to prepare. After filling the molds, if there is no cave, "bed" the ice in the usual way.