World Nutella Day
Hold on to your croissants everyone because February 5th is World Nutella Day! So whip out your spoon to enjoy the hazelnutty goodness of the most famous chocolate spread ever. And while you’re licking your way to the bottom of the jar, take a moment to be thankful to Pietro Ferrero. It was his brilliant creation in a war ravaged country that transformed the world of chocolate as we know it.
Picture it…Piedmont, Italy 1923.
After serving in World War I, pastry maker Pietro Ferrero opened a small shop in the northwest town of Dogliani. He and his wife, Piera Cillario welcomed their son, Michele in 1925. After a decade of moving around and working in different shops, Pietro and wife Piera Cillario traveled to Africa to sell biscuits to the Italian troops dispatched by Mussolini. When that endeavor fizzled, Pietro and family returned to the quiet hills of Alba, Italy.
It was in Alba where Pietro found great success. Inspiration hit him after watching factory workers carry bread with tomatoes and cheese to work each day. He wanted to create a sweet ‘sandwich’ alternative in the form of chocolate. Unable to find ingredients in the post-World War II economy, Pietro began experimenting with cheaper, more sustainable ingredients.
Hazelnuts were (and still are) an abundant resource in Piedmont. During this time, there was already a product being made using chocolate and hazelnut. But Pietro wanted a better product than what was offered. Inspiration took over and Pietro began blending hazelnuts with a variety of ingredients. Pietro had was hit with ‘inventor’s syndrome’ and worked on the formula all hours of the day. Sometimes, he would be hit with inspiration in the middle of the night and wake his wife, insisting she try his latest formula.
Finally, Pietro found the perfect flavor combination using hazelnuts, sugar, and a pinch of the rare cocoa. He named his creation after a popular carnival character known as Giandujot.
Pietro took his Giandujot, already formed into a loaf and cut it into slices to the streets and found it was an instant hit–especially with children.
Giandujot was selling as fast as Pietro could make it and in 1946, Pietro teamed up with his brother, Giovanni who had an extensive background in food wholesale, to create the chocolate company known today as Fererro.
The popularity of Giandujot rose, but in 1949, Pietro passed away from a massive heart attack. His son Michele, in an effort to carry on the family business had an idea to fashion a creamier, more ‘spreadable’ version of his father’s creation.
Tales of how Michele actually created the super creamier version vary, but most of them revolve around Alba’s particularly hot summer in 1949. Legends state that the paste melted giving Michele the inspiration to sell the creamy spread in jars rather than loaves. He renamed the spread “Supercrema.”
Michele worked to perfect the new product. Supercrema was packaged in reusable jars and pots in an effort to appeal to penny-pinchers. He pushed the family business forward with the newly jarred and newly named Supercrema in shops throughout Italy.
In 1956, Supercrema made its way onto the German shelves and was a huge success. Soon, the explosion continued into Belgium, Austria, and France.
In 1962, the Italian government passed a law banning superlative names (such as super-, ultra-, stra-) in consumer products. Once again, Michele Ferrero found himself with a dilemma.
Rather than simply change the name of his product, Michele decided a complete rebrand was in order. Success across Europe meant the company could now afford real chocolate. Through trial and error, Michele introduced cocoa and cocoa butter into the formula.
Happy with his changes, Michele and his team worked to create a label that would evoke the flavor of hazelnut in any language across the globe. They came up with the English word “nut”, and combined it with the Italian positive-sounding suffix “ella”.
Thus, Nutella was born.
With a richer chocolate flavor with custom jars and the iconic label, the first jar of Nutella rolled out of the factory on April 20, 1964.
Genius marketing centered toward psychological and emotional needs, created a frenzy across the globe. In the seventies, children looked to Nutella to suppress their sorrows while adults used it as an antidote to depression. While many have attempted to reproduce a similar product, nothing created can hold a candle to the original.
Today, more than 150 million families regularly enjoy the hazelnut spread at breakfast. You can find Nutella at nearly every major grocer and boutique shop in America. The versatile spread can be used on breads, pancakes, waffles, crackers, cookies, and more.
The possibilities are endless!
World Nutella Day is a reminder that nothing is impossible. Nutella has risen from the poverty stricken streets of Piedmont, Italy to become the third largest chocolate company in the world.
And it all started with a little nut…