FOOD HISTORY: Nutella

In 1920, Pietro Ferrero was a pastry Chef in the city of Turin in Piedmont, Italy who would watch workers eating cheese, tomatoes and bread for lunch. It would be nice for them, he thought, to be able to eat something sweet on their bread, as well. He knew that in  Piedmont, a chocolate treat made with cocoa and chopped Hazelnuts called Giaduja, was already available. Since Hazelnuts were very abundant in Piedmont, this was one way that was found to use them up. In 1925, Ferrero experimented with and perfected a "pastone" (paste) of chocolate and hazelnuts that he found good to eat with bread.The "pastone" was hardened into loaves,wrapped in foil and sold so it could be sliced, placed on a piece of bread and eaten. He named his new product "Pasta Gianduja"; pasta meaning paste and Gianduja, the name of a carnival character famous in the Piedmont area. While it was eaten by some workmen, its appeal was mostly to children who, in many cases, threw away their bread and only ate the Gianduja. In 1946, just after WW II ended, Pietro Ferrero died and was replaced by his son Michele. The transition of Pasta Gianduja from a solid loaf  to a spreadable product occurred during the summer of 1949. According to one story, in that  hot summer, the loaves in stores melted and the shopkeepers began to sell it as a spread. Another story is that the product melted in a warehouse in Alba and so it had to be scooped into jars, rather that be sold as solid loaves. Whatever the truth of these stories, the idea of a spreadable product was very appealing to Michele.  Therefore,  he worked to alter the formulation to make a more spreadable product which he then called, "Supercrema". However, in 1962 Italy's consumer agency banned superlatives, such as,"Super", "Ultra", etc. from being used in product names. Thus, Michele had to find a new brand name for his spread.  He came up with a name by  merging the English word "nut" for the products  principle ingredient Hazelnuts with the  positive sounding Italian suffix, "ella" and, in 1964, the first jar of  the newly named Nutella appeared. Now, Italians consume at least 60 million jars of Nutella a year, spreading it on bread or just eating it out of the jar. In the 1970's Nutella emigrated from Italy and is  now enjoyed by children, both young and old, around the world.