Sunday, March 13, 2005

Nuts for Nutella

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Let's start off this week with a riddle: What's sweet and thick and mostly nuts?

Yes, I suppose I could fit, wiseguy. Thanks.

I'm talking about Nutella!

Nutella is this stuff my wife and I discovered at Shaw's while we were hanging out one day by the peanut butter. We were reviewing the finer differences between jam, jelly and preserves. I had just thrown our philosophical discussion into chaos by asking where marmalade fit into the equation, when my wife caught sight of a small brown jar with a white European-looking label.

"This looks interesting," my wife said, dropping it into our carriage.

"Is this one of those revolting foreign products that only appeals to people raised where they don't have Pepsi?" I asked. "Like Orangina or shrimp crackers or that coconut-flavored soda in the Spanish aisle?"

"I read about this in a health magazine," she said, and I sulked about it the whole way home.

Later, we opened the Nutella jar. It looked like chocolate. A note on the label read, "Nutella is great on ... just about anything!" So we dipped spoons in and tasted.

It was chocolate.

It was wicked good chocolate.

It was most potent, most chocolatey chocolate I've ever eaten in my life. And we had a whole jar.

I muttered something unintelligible and fainted. When I awoke minutes later, my wife sighed, put the spoon down, and helped me to my feet.

"Egad, woman!" I said, reaching inside the jar with a finger. "I thought you said this was health food!"

In short, Nutella is a thick brown spread made from hazelnuts and cocoa. It's made by the Ferrero company. Originally, it comes from Italy, and now it comes from New Jersey (six of one, half dozen of the other). If you're familiar with those expensive, gold-wrapped Ferrero Rocher chocolates that have a goopy fudge in the middle, picture Nutella as the goopy fudge in the middle.

Since discovering it, I've conducted hours of research about Nutella -- about two jars' worth. It's been enough to put together the following question-and-answer cheat sheet to satisfy any inquiries you might have before you try it yourself:


Q: Why haven't I heard about Nutella before now?

A: Perhaps that's best explained on a Web site I found devoted to all things Italian, "Nutella is a wildly popular food which all Italians eat but no one talks about." The reasoning is, if they don't talk about it, you won't
try to swipe their Nutella.

Q: You sound crazy. Can Nutella really be that good?

A: Yes, it is that good. I don't want to oversell it, but Nutella is probably the best edible substance ever. That includes steak and money.

Q: What genius invented Nutella?

A: At the end of World War II, Italian defense contractor Pietro Ferrero created Nutella in an attempt to create a plastic explosive that also tasted delicious when spread on croissants. Ferrero pureed hazelnuts, and gradually he mixed in the most wonderful ingredients in the world: cocoa powder, skim milk, sunshine, the smell of warm puppy dogs -- you name it. Eventually, he gave up trying to make it explode, added partially hydrogenated peanut oil, and called it Nutella.

Q: How did Nutella go from being an Italian product to the worldwide phenomenon it is today?

A: Here's something I found online -- unfortunately, it was written entirely in Italian. translated it for you, with little success.

"The happened one that it derived some to world-wide level was therefore immense that today the Nutella is practically prepared spalmabile made up of cacao and the nocciole more used and known." Does that clear things up?

Q: I'm allergic to both hazelnuts and chocolate. Can I still eat Nutella?

A: Sadly, no. Your life is wasted. Thanks for your letter!

Q: Please settle a bet between myself and my friend, whom I'll call "Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Starship Enterprise." I say Nutella is good on just about anything. My friend says Nutella is good on just about everything. Who gets the backrub?

A.: You're both wrong! Nutella is great on just about anything! I've tried it on fruit, toast, English muffins, my fingers, my wife's fingers and the kitchen counter, and so far I've not been disappointed. Next, I plan to try spreading it on bagels, vegetables, turkey and the end of a pencil.

Q: Isn't it fattening to eat so much Nutella?

A: Next!

Q: Is Nutella more of a breakfast food or a snack food?

A: For this answer, let me turn once again to the Italian Web site I found, translated by Google.

"Its happened one, beyond to the unmistakable taste, is legacy to the conservation facility (does not go put in refrigerator) and of dosage."

Q: Are there any famous Nutella TV commercials? You know -- like the Grey Poupon ones, except they could use Nutella. Wouldn't that be funny?

A: No, that would be awful, thanks anyway. Nutella relies primarily on word of mouth. For instance, by writing the word "Nutella" so often, I have imprinted the brand name in your mind. Soon you shall crave Nutella. Then you will buy Nutella and eat Nutella and love Nutella. When your Nutella is all gone, you shall weep and cry, "I must have more Nutella!" And you shall experience severe depression until you buy more Nutella. This is called "advertising."

Q: I read on the Internet that, in Europe, Nutella has been celebrated "in song and print." What's a typical Nutella song?

A: Usually, people just substitute "You Make Me Feel So Young" for "You Make Me Feel Like Eating Nutella," and "Strangers in the Night" to "Nutella is Good."

Then there are original compositions, like this one. And-a one, and-a two...

I'm such a happy fella,
When I'm eatin' my Nutella
With you,
Everything is swell-a
When I'm spreadin' my Nutella
With you...sweet you.

My heart, it goes ker-twhot,
But, baby, it sure ain't not
From being so near your cocoa-smooth head.
It's so hazelnutty and sweet
I can't just eat it for a treat--
Pardon, lover, but you're hogging the bread...

So if I was locked in the cellar
Wouldn't want nothin' but my Nutellaaaaar--
Oh--and you, dear...also you.


Kelly Kirch said...

OH MY GOSH! I just about died laughing. I am doing my part to introduce the world to Nutella. In fact, and I'm not kidding, I sent some to a friend via mail on Tuesday who'd *gasp* never heard of it before. Stunning, I know. Please, please pretty please, may I use your post on my blog tomorrow?? I may even have to serve up a dedication to your genius in my next book. I'm definitely bribe-able.

Dan said...

Sure, Kelly. Feel free to cite my column on your blog, as anything that spreads the chocolatey, creamy word about the deliciousness of Nutella is a benefit to humankind.

I actually just had a little Nutella the other day, in fact. I say "a little." My wife and I were buying groceries and I said I wanted to buy some. She said, "If you want it, go ahead, but I'm on a diet." When I got to the jar later that night, it was mysteriously gone except for a smudge of it at the bottom. My guess: Thieves must have broken into my house and stolen it. That's the only explanation.

Amarinda Jones said...

Great blog...I don't understand the whole Nutella thing when there is Vegemite but to each there own.

Yes, I know Kelly...

Kelly Kirch said...

Dan! Thanks! I'll post you this week. I missed your comment until too late. Ignore AJ, she's an Aussie with little understanding for the yumminess of Nutella. Though she appreciates a TimTam now and again. I'm linking your blog to my site as I appreciate all forms of cleverness. Thanks for letting me quote you. I'll have you up on Wednesday this week.

Kelly Kirch said...

Okay, Dan. Hope you have notification still active. You're up on my site with full reference to yours and a link. I really appreciate the usage. Check it out and make sure I did you justice. If not, will be happy to add or take out stuff for you.

Just think. Your readership is leaping forward with the Romance Writers collective. Talk about diversifying! :) Think your intellectual friends can handle the mass market challenge?

New England Bites said...

Dan, have you ever tried Nutella ice cream? We just made some. It's out of this world. I posted pictures. Sorry if one of them looks like *&$# ... literally.

Laura :o)
New England Bites

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