Nutella is one of those foods that are just about impossible to dislike. It’s chocolate; it’s hazelnuts; it’s creamy; it’s delicious. But even if you’re one of the millions of people who are cultishly devoted to it, we bet that there’s still a lot you don’t know about this addictive spread.
Nutella is a play on gianduja, a mixture of about 70 percent hazelnut paste and 30 percent chocolate. It was invented in Turin during Napoleon’s reign around 1800. A blockade of the Mediterranean made chocolate scarce, so chocolatiers mixed it with hazelnuts, which were ample in the region. Gianduja took its name from a popular marionette character.
In 1951, Pietro Ferrero’s 26-year-old son Michele wanted to find a way to turn his father’s solid block of Pasta Gianduja into something more spreadable and creamy, so after some experimentation he found the secret ingredient: vegetable oil. Today, Nutella’s primary ingredients are chocolate, hazelnuts, and palm oil.
istockphoto.com and ferrero.com
Due to the success of Nutella and his other invention, Ferrero Rocher, Michele Ferrero became a very wealthy man, surpassing Silvio Berlusconi as Italy’s wealthiest man in 2008. At the time of his death at age 89 in 2015, he’d amassed a fortune of more than $26 billion. Fun fact: The chocolate layer that surrounds the hazelnut in the middle of each Ferrero Rocher is Nutella.
Under Italian law, Nutella can only be called hazelnut cream, because it doesn’t meet the criteria for minimum cocoa solids.
Each jar of Nutella contains about 50 hazelnuts.
Nutella is 70 percent fat and sugar, and two tablespoons contain 200 calories, 11 grams of fat, and 21 grams of sugar. In fact, Ferrero faced a class action lawsuit a few years ago for falsely advertising that Nutella is nutritious.
It’s been held on February 5 every year since 2007, and in 2013 was nearly cancelled due to a cease-and-desist letter from Ferrero. Thankfully, the founder and Ferrero reconciled, and it was allowed to continue. It should probably have been on April 20 anyway, because that’s the date in 1964 when the first jar left the plant.
In 2014, the Italian postal service released a 50th anniversary commemorative Nutella 70-euro cent stamp, with a jar of Nutella against a golden background.
Thanks to the high amount of sugar in Nutella, it’s shelf-stable and will remain edible at room temperature until the best-by date on the jar. If you refrigerate Nutella, the oil from the hazelnuts will harden and it’ll become very difficult to spread.
Back in 2015, a couple in France attempted to name their daughter Nutella, but a judge actually forbade it, ruling that the name was inappropriate and the girl “risked being mocked.” The name was shortened to something more appropriate: Ella.