The curious history behind the world-famous spread

Fifty-three years ago, the first jar of what we now call Nutella was sold from a bakery in Alba, Piedmont

Soon after, the chocolate-hazelnut spread conquered the entire world.

However you might not be aware of these facts about the world-famous spread it might surprise even its most dedicated fans. Here are some of the most bizarre facts about Nutella, from its humble beginnings to world domination.

It all started as a post-war “story of poverty”

When Michele Ferrero, the son of a small town pastry maker, decided to follow in his father’s footsteps, he started from humble beginnings.

Nutella could be called an ‘austerity recipe’ – in the 1950’s, the Second World War and rationing had left chocolate in short supply in Italy. So Ferrero came up with the idea of adding hazelnuts, which were cheaper and more readily available than cocoa, to make the spread go further.

“It began as a story of poverty,” Italy’s Economic Development Minister once said. But the nut-chocolate combination was a hit.

Fifty years later, however, its owners were far from poor…Fifty years after that first jar, Nutella’s inventor was ranked as the richest person in Italy and 30th richest in the world, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Michele Ferrero died the following year, leaving his widow Maria Franca Fissola the world’s richest Italian, her wealth estimated at some €20 billion.

And Ferrero International keeps on growing, apparently unaffected by the economic crisis which has caused devastation for many Italian businesses.

On the last business update in August last year, the company has invoiced €10.3 billion, a growth of 8.2% compared to the previous year. The company has truly conquered the world, with Ferrero products found in 170 countries.

Hard beginnings

Nutella jars are now universally recognisable, but they bear very little resemblance to the very first batch.

Ferrero called the initial version Pasta Gianduja, named after a similar recipe from Turin. And it was first made in solid blocks, with the creamy, spreadable version only appearing in 1951.

Colossal amounts

The amount of Nutella produced in a year weighs as much as the Empire State building, and the hazelnuts used to make the spread over a two-year period could fill a basket of the size of the Colosseum.

This story first appeared on The Local It