I remember the first time I had Nutella, during a visit to England. My friend’s mother was serving breakfast, and brought a jar of the deep, dark chocolate paste to the table. “It’s for your toast,” she said, and placed it next to the jar of English orange marmalade. Frosting? For breakfast? Why hadn’t I visited Europe sooner?
Since then, Nutella-mania has finally arrived in the Americas. Usually found next to the peanut butter in the grocery store, Nutella is swiftly becoming a staple in most US pantries.
Made of chocolate and hazelnuts, Nutella was originally called Pasta Gianduja or Gianduja paste. During the Napoleonic era, chocolate was in short supply. In order to stretch their precious ingredients, chocolatiers added inexpensive, locally grown hazelnuts to their chocolate confections. During Carnaval time, right before the Christian season of Lent, traditional Italian Commedia dell’Arte clowns known as gianduja would distribute samples of these locally made chocolates, hence the candy became known as Pasta Gianduja.