The Simpsons Explained A Joke Two Season Later


In season 5, The Simpsons offered an Easter egg for careful viewers that addressed an iconic moment from two years earlier in season 3.

A classic The Simpsons joke in season 3 was actually answered in season 5 — two years later. Created by Matt Groening, The Simpsons quickly became a cultural phenomenon after it debuted in 1989. Long-time fans have come to appreciate the show’s ability to mix laugh-out-loud slapstick humor, surreal situations, and subtle Easter eggs — like the scene of Bart eating chocolate ice cream in season 5, episode 17.

For many, The Simpsons golden age is over. Although The Simpsons is still on the air — more than 30 years later — many regard the early seasons as its best. The sharp writing in the early seasons are what made the animated sitcom so popular in the first place. The way in which a season 5 visual gag referenced an earlier joke is proof of sharp writing and attention to detail that made these early The Simpsons episodes so enjoyable.

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The original joke occurs in The Simpsons, season 3, episode 13, “Radio Bart” (although the episode is out of order on Disney+ since “Stark Raving Mad” isn’t included). The gag is quick but iconic: Homer pulls out a container of Neapolitan, only to curse “doh!” when he sees that the chocolate portion is missing. He then pulls out another and has the same reaction. Marge then tells him not to worry, and that she’d pick up more from the store.

The Simpsons doh ice cream


The Simpsons joke implied that Homer was the one eating the chocolate of the Neapolitan ice cream, and the situation is humorous because it implied he was only interested in eating the chocolate — so why continue to buy the Neapolitan flavor? A season 5 episode addressed this lingering mystery, however, and set the record straight. The Simpsons, season 5, episode 17, “Bart Gets an Elephant” shows Bart sitting at the kitchen table eating while he listens to the radio (trying to win “something stupid” — eventually succeeding and getting an elephant). A close look reveals that Bart is actually eating the same kind of ice cream carton seen in season 3 — specifically, the chocolate portion. The visual is subtle and no attention is brought to what he’s doing, making the situation a quick blink-and-you-miss-it gag to reward careful watching.

The Simpsons is full of Easter eggs to reward long-time viewers, with some being more obvious than others. The fact that gags like the Neapolitan ice cream reference keep making the rounds online show that over its 30 year broadcast history, The Simpsons still has lots to offer viewers. Since Disney+ has all the episodes available on its streaming platform (now available in the original 4:3 aspect ratio), audiences have ample opportunity to revisit the series — and find many more hidden gems in the process.

Next: How The Simpsons Retconned Homer & Marge’s Backstory

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Updated: November 18, 2020 — 5:02 pm

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