If you believe the recent news reports, the chocolaty hazelnut spread is like that high school kid in the leather jacket that mothers warn their daughters about. Though it had been marketed as a healthy alternative, Nutella evidently has the nutritional value of a “candy bar in a jar.” But that doesn’t mean we don’t love it anyway.
At our house, the obsession started in 2010 after my son Jay was introduced to this addictive goodness by his girlfriend. For those who haven’t experienced the deliciousness that is Nutella, I asked Jay to provide a description. “It’s very rich, full of flavor. It’s a better alternative to peanut butter – but it goes well with peanut butter also.” Jay’s term “better alternative” refers to flavor, not nutrition.
Within the first week of Jay’s discovery, this Italian decadence found its way into our kitchen cabinet. We were spreading Nutella on Eggos and looking for other excuses to slather the spread far and wide. It can be spread on bread, toast, waffles, bananas or pancakes. For my sons’ birthdays and graduations, my nieces have baked Nutella cupcakes. When my son started his freshman year at Temple University, we noticed he continually “checked in” at the campus creperie truck, where they serve… Nutella crepes.
Thanks to the internet and social media, we were soon inducted into the worldwide cult of Nutella, where folks link to a myriad of recipes and photos. How would you like deep fried Nutella raviolis? Check out Big Fat Baker.
Wende Faulk, who describes herself as a “Nutella newbie,” recently tweeted her own photo of a Nutella crepe she was savoring at Avalon Restaurant in West Chester. “I love Nutella and keep wondering where it has been all my life,” she says.
Nicole Valentine has seen how easily the love of Nutella can spread. She works for figment.com, a writing website where YA writers share their work. “Early on, I stated that the website was run on caffeine and Nutella. This wasn’t far from the truth; I’m not sure I consumed much else during that (start-up) period,” she says. Nicole’s comment on the figment site “tapped a vein,” and Nutella has now become a meme in the figment.com community.
“It makes perfect sense, writers love Nutella,” Nicole says. “It goes with almost anything, works with every meal, and can be eaten with a spoon at your desk. I think Nutella is the patron saint food of writers’ everywhere.”
And then, there is Nutella art. Miriam Kendrick is a British comic artist with a passion for the spread. Her love for Nutella started as a child. “My mum always used to take some with us when we went on holiday to give to us when we rejected foreign food,” she says. Miriam enjoys her Nutella on a “freshly baked crusty white loaf.” She drew a couple of Nutella themed comics on her daily webcomic and Nutella fans worldwide linked to her site. “I obviously resonated with people’s deep seated love of Nutella as people really liked it and requested more pictures.”
There’s even a World Nutella Day, celebrated annually on February 5th. The logo is “We had a dream. And a spoon. Nutella Lovers unite for just one day – Nutella Day!”
Last year, after we started purchasing Nutella by the six-pack at Sam’s Club, it struck me that this might make a good investment. I read through the website for Ferrero, the Italian company that creates Nutella with their secret recipe. Unfortunately, they are a privately owned company, still run by the sons of the man who first invented Nutella back in the 1940s. As legend has it, Mr. Pietro Ferrero first developed the hazelnut spread in the 1940s when WWII rationing led to a short supply of cocoa.
Recently though, the darker side of Nutella has revealed itself to the legions of dedicated fans. Ferrero has agreed to pay $3 million after a class action lawsuit claimed they had mislead customers about nutritional and health benefits, marketing the spread as a healthy breakfast. Ferrero is now changing the marketing campaign, including television commercials and labeling.
Will this stop the legion of fans from buying Nutella? Its’ doubtful. After all, there are times when the rush of a candy bar is what’s needed when trying to finish a writing project – whether at university, building a website or writing a foodie article. And besides, it’s just too damn good to give up. And that’s why Nutella has earned it’s reputation of the bad boy of breakfast spreads.
Comic credited to Miriam Kendrick. Nutella images courtesy of Nutella. Nutella Crepe Photography credited to Wende Faulk.