When I was living in a college dorm, a white-and-orange jar appeared near the toaster station in the cafeteria only sporadically. There was no rhyme or reason to it. Some days were Nutella days; other days sucked. Nutella was near-universally loved among the student body, excepting those with nut allergies. Standing in the toaster line next to a stranger from a different dorm, you’d both smile knowingly at each other: “Hell yeah, Nutella day.”
Actually, today is Nutella Day, in the “official” sense of a food holiday. The brand has crowned February 5 World Nutella Day and is celebrating with giveaways and promotions at its Nutella Cafe locations in Chicago and New York. Most of us at The Takeout reacted to this news positively in our morning meeting. We reasonably enjoy Nutella and find it a delightfully chocolate-nutty spread. But based on the comments readers left the last time we wrote about Nutella, you all do not share this sentiment.
Some choice excerpts:
- “Good to see Costco is selling diabetes by the tub.”
- “It’s literally sugar and fat with the smallest amount of hazelnut flavor legally allowed so that they don’t have to call it what it is. Sugar spread.”
- “Isn’t Nutella singularly responsible for the destruction of rainforests and the imminent relegation of orangutans to “Every Which Way” Clint Eastwood reruns? Isn’t that because it’s made from heart-clogging multi-poly-saturated palm lard that will relegate its consumers to a similar fate?”
Okay, the people have spoken. We are not all on board the Nutella train. But I don’t recall this level of disdain for the European hazelnut spread years ago. Per this American history of Nutella from The Daily Beast, jars began arriving stateside in 1983, but it was a big marketing push that led sales to triple from approximately 2009-2014. It became the hipper alternative to peanut butter, with its European pseudo-sophistication and Dominique Ansel-endorsed gourmet cred.
But did it become too ubiquitous? Is that what explains the Nutella backlash our commenters espouse? Where it was once a badge of Euro-coolness—“Oh, I ate so much Nutella when I studied abroad”—it’s now a spread that your Walmart-shopping aunt stocks in her pantry. Perhaps Nutella suffers the same fate as avocado toast: While delicious, it’s simultaneously too ubiquitous and too faux-hip to sustain our love?
Or maybe you guys just really don’t like the combo of nuts and chocolate, in which case, please state your case in the comments.