Food and Snacks Invention Related to Pacific Asia War: Part 3- Nutella: How Rationing Created an Italian Sweets Empire
Italy had switched sides in WW2 during October of 1943, declaring war on the Axis of power then. By the end of WW2, the United States’ occupation of Italy was not news. Postwar Italy was in bad shape, but was not as bad as postwar Japan. However, food rationing was happening all across Europe and cacao importing cost was very high, which provided an opportunity for resourceful entrepreneur such as Pietro Ferrero.
Pietro Ferrero’s version of the gianduiotto was even better. He blended a mixture of molasses, hazelnut oil, coconut butter, and a small amount of cocoa. He cut them into small loaves and wrapped them into wax paper. Its original name was Giandujot (Pasta Gianduja) after a local carnival character at the time. The children liked the chocolate and hazelnut mixture so much that they tossed the bread out and only ate the Giandujot in the middle. Since Giandujot was selling so well, He decided to partner up with his brother, Giovanni, who had the wholesaling experience to scale up his operation.
By 1946, May 14th, the Ferrero Company was born! However, Pietro died of a heart attack by 1949. By 1951, Pietro’s son, who was 26 at the time, wanted to turn his father’s solid paste into something more creamy and spreadable. The spreadability helped to make the small amount of cocoa go even further. His secret ingredient was vegetable. He then renamed the product “SuperCrema”. This was the predecessor of Nutella.
SuperCrema was packaged in jars and pots so customers could reuse them for other things. Due to the high cost of wholesale distribution, the company decided to go with sales representatives to talk directly to the stores to keep the cost down. Due to a heart attack, Giovanni also passed away in 1957 leaving Michele into taking over the operation, but the company was already on its way to global expansion. Michele had convinced his relatives in Germany to convert former Nazi missile factories into factories of candies. In Germany, they started not with their SuperCrema, but with Mon Cheri, cherry-liquor-filled chocolate.
In the 1960s, Italy finally recovered from its postwar economic ruins with a combination of the Cold War, the Marshall Plan, and the Korean War. The country could afford to have chocolate once again. Michele then decided to add more cocoa powder to the mix. And by 1964, the company needed to rebrand as Italy started regulating the use of superlatives in advertising. They came up with the name “Nutella” to convey its content of hazelnut.
By 1982, the company found another use for Nutella. Making of its own chocolate, Ferrero Rocher. The chocolate layer that surrounds the hazelnut in the middle of each Ferrero Rocher is Nutella. Today, more than 365 million kilos of Nutella is consumed worldwide, and more than 25% of the world’s hazelnuts are used by making Nutella.