In just a single year Nutella sells enough jars to cover
the Great Wall of China 8 times over.
But exactly how did this nutty snack become such a spreadable sensation?
As you’ll soon find out, Nutella came about in a much darker time of war and turmoil.
The creamy concoction has a long and winding history, tracing back to 19th century Italy.
In fact, the first predecessor of Nutella came about thanks to
none other than Napoleon Bonaparte.
As the story goes, chocolate was a scarce commodity because of the Napoleonic wars between
France and several other European countries, including Great Britain.
Now, Britain was a global center of commerce and Napoleon naturally forbade French allies
and neutral colonies from trading with the British in an attempt to destroy their economy.
The result was a continental blockade that had caused the price of chocolate to soar.
People were scrambling to find a solution, and some resourceful Italian chocolatiers
had the idea of adding chopped hazelnuts to their chocolate in order to stretch their
The result was a tasty paste that came to be known gianduia.
Whilst popular during the war, it faded into obscurity once cocoa imports returned to full
But, you know what they say: history repeats itself, and it wasn’t long before the shadow
of another dictator threatened the Italian chocolate industry once more.
Italian chocolate lovers just couldn’t catch a break, it seems, as the country once again
found itself in crisis in the wake of World War II.
But the Italians were industrious and went back to their old ways of stretching their
limited chocolate supply.
This time, however, a pastry maker named Pietro Ferrero would take gianduia to the next level.
He created a new recipe using hazelnuts, sugar, and the tiny bit of cocoa he could get his
The result was a thick, sweet loaf that he dubbed giandujot.
If you’re having trouble imagining a version of Nutella that had to be cut with a knife,
then don’t worry––it never really caught on.
However, this failure did not stop Ferrero from trying again.
He hit the drawing board and in 1951 he came up with a spreadable version.
He called it SuperCrema, and although its name was gimmicky, its taste was not.
Since it was spreadable, even a tiny bit of it went a long way, and the price made it
accessible to the chocolate lovers who couldn’t afford the real thing.
The consequences of World War II, of course, continued to send shockwaves throughout the
world, but at least people finally had an affordable way to satisfy their sweet tooth.
Now we fast forward to 1964, when SuperCrema’s recipe was adjusted for mass production and
rebranded as Nutella.
By that point, Pietro had handed over control of the company to his son, Michele.
Over the next few decades, he would spread Nutella across Europe and then the United
States, creating an empire that would have put Napoleon to shame.
Of course, Michele would not rest on his laurels, creating other iconic sweets like Ferrero
Rocher and Kinder, but that’s a story for another time.
Perhaps Michele’s greatest strategy, however, was his focus on secrecy, for under his tenure
the company refused to hold press conferences or to give anyone access to their plants.
With such a tight control over his production, Michele could keep quality high while expanding
the company at a rapid pace.
Nutella quickly ceased being a mere substitute for chocolate and gained a cult following
of its own.
Today, you can join legions of fans who spread Nutella on their morning toast, and you can
celebrate World Nutella Day on the 5th of February each year.
In many ways, Nutella is a testament to the perseverance of humanity.
It was created in the wake of one of the worst wars in history, and it’s still making people
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And now all that’s left to do is to suggest that you go and have yourself some yummy Nutella.
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