THAT'S NUTS! How WW2 misery led to the invention of Nutella… the fascinating story behind the world’s favourite chocolate spread

The winning nutty formula made Michele Ferrero Italy's richest man - and it's all thanks to World War II rationing

06 February 2018 - 09:40

WORLD War II and Napoleon are partly responsible for Britain's love of Nutella, and there's a fascinating story behind the spread's creation.

It turns out hazelnuts weren't added to chocolate spread because it tastes delicious, even though it does, but out of necessity during wartime rationing.

Italian choclatiers started adding hazelnuts to chocolate because of wartime rationing

Way back in 1806, Napoleon tried to freeze out British businesses to strengthen his position in the war between Britain and France, leading to a disastrous Europe-wide blockade which caused the cost of chocolate to skyrocket.

Determined not to be defeated, resourceful choclatiers in Turin, northern Italy, started adding chopped hazelnuts to chocolate - to spread the supply.

A delicious spread called 'gianduja' was created as a result of this.

Fast forward another 100 years, and the price of chocolate was hiked yet again because of World War II rations.

 Pietro Ferrero created a chocolate hazelnut treat in 1946 - and his son Michele, pictured, rebranded with Nutella in 1964
 
Pietro Ferrero created a chocolate hazelnut treat in 1946 - and his son Michele, pictured, rebranded with Nutella in 1964
 The family's hometown of Alba, the birthplace of Nutella, pictured in 1946
 
Ferrero
The family's hometown of Alba, the birthplace of Nutella, pictured in 1946

Italian pastry chef Pietro Ferrero once again turned to hazelnuts - and created a sweet treat called Pasta Gianduja in 1946.

Pietro was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time - his home town is Alba, Piedmont, an area known for its production of hazelnuts.

He initially marketed a solid block of hazelnut chocolate and then created a creamy version, known as 'Supercrema', in 1951.

 A 1960s poster for Nutella chocolate spread - after its rebrand
 
Ferrero
A 1960s poster for Nutella chocolate spread - after its rebrand
 By 2015, Ferrero were selling one jar of Nutella every 2.5 seconds
 
Ferrero
By 2015, Ferrero were selling one jar of Nutella every 2.5 seconds

This was then renamed 'Nutella' by Pietro's son Michele in 1964 - with 'ella' meaning 'sweet' in Latin.

Michele used the English word for nut as a marketing tool to boost Nutella's popularity throughout Europe.

And his plan worked - by 2015, one jar of Nutella was sold every 2.5 seconds. That's a hell of a lot of chocolate spread.

 Michele Ferrero was Italy's richest man when he died in 2015
 
Michele Ferrero was Italy's richest man when he died in 2015
 The treat was originally known as Gianduja, and was rebranded Nutella in 1964
 
Delissano
The treat was originally known as Gianduja, and was rebranded Nutella in 1964
 
Ferrero

By the time of his death, at the age of 89, Michele was Italy's richest man.

While the Ferrero group, which is now run by Michele's son Giovanni, have sales of more than £5.9 billion every year.

Speaking in 2014, Giovanni told the BBC: "My grandfather lived to find this formula.

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