Hazelnuts and Nutella chocolate spread
Photo by Alex9500/Envato

What is in Nutella?

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Nutella looks for all the world like chocolate in a jar. It’s not just chocolate in a jar, is it?


A bit nutty

People rave about it. Drool over it. Eat a jar of it in a single sitting. So what exactly is Nutella?

Not your usual jar of nuts

Nutella is basically a hazelnut-chocolate spread, with a consistency similar to smooth peanut butter.

The stuff was originally created in the 1940s in Italy by Pietro Ferrero — founder of the Ferrero company, which you might recognize as the maker of those sinfully good Ferrero Rocher candies.

Due to the strict rationing in place thanks to a little something called World War II, Ferrero developed the recipe as a way of extending the chocolate supply. He mixed together the plentiful hazelnuts together with cocoa, skim milk, sugar, and palm oil to create a sweet, velvety spread.

The American Chemical Society reports that people have eaten hazelnuts since at least the middle stone ages. Even now, more than ten thousand years later, they’re still popular, and are the third most commonly grown nut, after almonds and walnuts. (And of all the hazelnuts, Italian varieties fetch the highest price.)

As roughly half the calories in Nutella come from fat — and saturated fat, for that matter — it’s wonderfully delicious on toast… although not quote on par with an egg white omelet or a low-sugar fruit smoothie in the healthy breakfast department.

You might have even heard about some less than positive press for Nutella recently, perhaps in the form of the $3 million class action lawsuit they paid out in 2012 for claiming their spread was a “healthy breakfast option.” Well, unfortunately, it isn’t exactly diet food, but it’s still pretty tasty, if you’re into hazelnuts.

So while it’s not a super-nutritious food, the nuts make it better than eating plain chocolate — and it’s a nice way to satisfy your sweet tooth with something a little different than your typical candy bar. But be warned: Nutella may be addictive.