Skip to content

The Nutella thing

I’m a western American, a Californian. I don’t do Nutella. My son’s girlfriend is an eastern American, a Floridian. She does Nutella. And at many of the sidewalk creperies here in Paris there are huge jars of the stuff with spreading knives ready for duty stabbed into the gooey stuff. Parisians definitely do Nutella.          

                                                  A 400 g jar of Nutella for the German market.

Nutella looks like chocolate-colored peanut butter, spreads like frosting, and has enough sugar to send your A1C (blood sugar average) to Mars. I watched a man at a crepe stand plop a big brown glob of Nutella onto a flat golden pancake, fold it over twice into a fat triangle, insert it into a paper cone, and hand it to a teenage boy.

On the label, the Nutella people call their product “the original creamy, chocolatey, hazelnut spread.” You can put it on bread, waffles, and croissants, and you can smear it on pancakes. Just eating it with a spoon right out of the jar also works. What IS the Nutella thing?

According to the company’s Web site, Nutella® was created in the 1940s by Pietro Ferrero, a pastry maker and founder of the Ferrero company. Because of rationing in World War II, cocoa was in short supply, so chocolate was very limited. Mr. Ferrero stretched the chocolate by using hazelnuts,  plentiful in Ferrero’s native Piedmont area, the northwest region of Italy (see map below). He combined chocolate and hazelnuts into a paste. (Hazelnuts were used in quite a few pastries and confections in the Piedmont.) In the modern version, Nutella is 13% hazelnuts and about 7% chocolate. Ferrero’s paste (pasta) was originally called pasta gianduja.

 Image:Italy Regions Piedmont Map.pngGianduja was a famous Piedmont carnival character. He could be found in the first Nutella ads, which showed Nutella loaves wrapped in tinfoil. This early version of Nutella was an inexpensive way for people to enjoy chocolate which was then six times more expensive than pasta gianduja. Italian food stores also offered a “smearing” service. Children could go to their local food store with a slice of bread for a slathering of  the stuff. The product was renamed Nutella in 1964.

Nutella was first imported from Italy into the U.S in 1983, mainly in the northeast, and Ferrero then built a plant in Somerset, New Jersey. Nutella is now sold next to peanut butters and jams across the United States. Around the world Nutella outsells all brands of peanut butter–combined. February 6 is World Nutella Day.


Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *