Ferrero’s Italian Nutella spread has garnered something of a cult following in the U.S. It seems that Sara Rosso, creator of the blog “Ms. Adventures in Italy,” had a stroke of genius when she declared February 5, 2007 the first annual “World Nutella Day.” In an 2009 interview with the LA Times, Rosso observed, “I thought it would be great to have a day where we could eat and cook with Nutella without shame… a bit like a meeting of the Nutella minds, or an NAA: Nutella Addicts Anonymous meeting.” Of course, there is really nothing shameful about enjoying a little Nutella every once in a while. Celebrating the wildly popular spread with a national food holiday seems more than fitting. But what are the origins of this tantalizing sugary treat?
Pietro Ferrero, a patisserie owner and founder of the Ferrero company from the Piedmont district of Italy, invented the spread. Ferrero originally began adding hazelnuts to chocolate during WWII when cocoa was being rationed. Hazelnuts were plentiful in the Piedmont area, and they helped to stretch the amount of cocoa Ferrero was allotted during rationing. He called the resulting sweet treat Pasta Gianduja. Pasta meant “paste” in Italian, and gianduja was the name of an Italian carnival character that was famous in the Piedmont region. Gianduja appeared as a smiling cartoon in the first advertisements for the chocolate-hazelnut treat. The earliest version of Pasta Gianduja was sold as a foil-wrapped loaf that Italian mothers would slice and serve on bread. Clever children often ditched the bread and ate the gianduja alone (who can blame them?), so Ferrero altered the recipe a bit and began selling it in a jar as a spread, renaming it Supercrema Gianduja. The spread was eventually renamed Nutella in 1964.
Nutella was an immediate hit with children, for obvious reasons. Adults loved that the tasty treat was less expensive than pure chocolate. Italian markets caught on to the popularity, and began offering children a “smearing.” This meant that kids could show up at their local food store with a slice of bread and have it “smeared” in Nutella.
European families enjoyed Nutella as a breakfast and snack food for over 40 years before it was introduced to the U.S. In 1983, Nutella was imported from Italy to the U.S. for the first time, and it is now available worldwide. While there’s no denying that we love Nutella in America, it is even more popular throughout Europe. In French and Italian grocery stores, there are entire sections dedicated to Nutella, with nearly every variety of jar you can imagine – from snack size to king size.
Nutella was recently in the news after being sued by two mothers for false advertising. For years, Nutella has claimed that its simple recipe of “roasted hazelnuts, skim milk and a hint of cocoa” contributed to a balanced diet when eaten in moderation. After doing a little research, the mothers found that Nutella was about as healthy as a candy bar, it’s only real nutritional value coming from the whole grain toast it was served on. While their frustration is understandable, when something tastes as good as Nutella, chances are it’s not very healthy. That said, the ad campaign might better have focused on Nutella’s unique flavor rather than the nutritional value. While it’s very tasty, it’s most certainly not a health food, and it’s probably best not to eat it all day, every day.
That said, Nutella is a terrific treat every once in a while. It’s truly one of life’s sweet pleasures. And, like I always say… everything in moderation, including moderation.
Fabio, Michelle, and Sara Rosso. “World Nutella Day History & Hosts.” World Nutella Day. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Feb. 2013.
“Nutella: Consumer Class Action Settlement.” ABC News. ABC News Network, 29 Apr. 2012. Web. 05 Feb. 2013.
“The History of Nutella.” Nutella USA. Ferrero, n.d. Web. 05 Feb. 2013.
Scattergood, Amy. “Nutty for Nutella: Spreadable Joy.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 11 Feb. 2009. Web. 05 Feb. 2013.