Foodies across the country have been consumed by a new trend: consuming Nutella. This chocolate hazelnut spread manufactured by the Italian company Ferrero has been around since the ‘60s, but has become increasingly popular in the states recently. The rise of this hot new craze is interesting to me, because Nutella has long been a staple in European kitchen cabinets. My summer mornings in France were not complete without a breakfast of toast slathered in the stuff. Now there are countless Buzzfeed articles centered on our passion for the chocolaty spread, a number of copycat products on the market (that are obviously sub-par), and even restaurants dedicated entirely to selling Nutella-based treats. It’s safe to say Americans are obsessed with this sinfully delicious indulgence.
Nutella evolved out of a product that was created because of the hungry times people faced post World War II. Pietro Ferrero, a young confectioner, dreamt of creating a substitute for chocolate treats, which were an unaffordable luxury at the time. The result? A little bit of cocoa, and a lot of hazelnuts.
Fast-forward fifty years and Nutella has become a global sensation. The company Fererro boasts 11 factories worldwide and uses 25 percent of the world production of hazelnuts. Depending on the size of the jar, they put anywhere from about 40 to almost 100 hazelnuts in each one. However, the nutty foundation that this affordable empire is built upon might be in jeopardy. The majority of hazelnuts come from a patch of land along the coast of Turkey. A late frost this year damaged the crop and cut the country’s production in half. As a result, the price of this sought-after nut has skyrocketed. Because of hazelnut’s increased value, more people are interested in growing them. Plantations have popped up in Chile and Australia, and existing farms around the world are now trying to expand. There are only a few spots in the United States that have the land and climate to sustain hazelnut growth. However, that could be changing. Courtesy of a research farm operated by Rutgers University in New Jersey, it may become possible to grow hazelnuts on the East Coast. A production opportunity like this could revolutionize the hazelnut business. The next time you’re eating Nutella straight from the jar, remember that in the future the hazelnut spread all over your spoon could have originated in your own backyard!
By Kelly ~ Communications Specialist