There are a lot of regional ice cream flavors out there. New England loves its Grape Nuts, California is all about the date-flavored ice cream, and Pennsylvania loves Teaberry. But there’s one regional ice cream flavor that rules them all: Superman. And unless you’re from the Midwest, you’ve probably never heard of it.
A bit like Superman himself, the origins and flavors of Superman ice cream are a bit elusive. But here are a few things we do know about this favorite childhood treat. Though now found all throughout the Midwest, Superman originated in Michigan, most likely at the Stroh’s brewery in Detroit, which began manufacturing nonalcoholic refreshments during Prohibition. We also know that Superman gets its name not from a partnership between the dairy industry and DC Comics, but because of the ice cream’s signature colors. Indeed, this ice cream comes in the three colors that make up Superman’s super suit: red, yellow, and blue.
But what are those flavors? Unlike another three-in-one ice cream Neapolitan, which has a well-established pairing of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry, the flavors within Superman are murkier.
According to Atlas Obscura, Superman is a mixture of Midwestern-exclusive ice cream flavors “blue moon” and “red pop” with vanilla. Blue moon is a truly difficult-to-describe flavor with a hint of bubblegum or marshmallow (some also taste a slight banana flavor). Red pop, as the name suggests, is based off of a red fruity soda, something between a cherry cream soda and strawberry. The yellow is vanilla, pure and simple.
But even this is not consistent. Sometimes the red is cherry. Sometimes the yellow is lemon. Sometimes the blue is the vanilla. Heck, sometimes the whole tub of Superman ice cream is vanilla. But no matter what flavor Superman may actually be, it’s a specialized, delicious local treat you need to try next time you visit the Midwest or any of the world’s best ice cream parlors.