By Breckyn Crocker
FLORENCE, Italy— Peanuts are a staple to the American lifestyle. They fill our grocery stores in jars of peanut butter, are cracked open at baseball games, are munched on at bars and compliment the creaminess of a chocolate ice cream cone with the perfect crunch. But in Italy, another nut shines as the star of the show: the hazelnut.
Italy is the world’s second leading hazelnut producer after Turkey and produces seven tenths of the world demand. Hazelnuts make the perfect crunch on a biscotti cookie, an Italian cake, and even create a wonderful gelato flavor.
An even bigger celebrity than the nut itself is the sweetened hazelnut chocolate spread commonly known by the brand Nutella. The sweet, gooey, creaminess of Nutella is unlike the salty staple of peanut butter. It’s better.
In 1946, Pietro Ferrero bakery’s in Alba, Piedmont, produced the first version of the hazelnut chocolate cream in an attempt to save money on chocolate. His creation turned out to be pure genius, and in 1963, Ferrero’s son Michele Ferrero marketed the “supercrema” to produce the first jar of Nutella in the Ferro factory. Deservedly, they are now among the richest families in Italy.
Just walking through the grocery store in Italy, you will be able to find a whole shelf of heavenly jars of Nutella. They’re there, as well, in any café, restaurant, or gelateria. And the rest of the world has caught on to this nutty deliciousness. So thank you, Italy and Mr. Ferrero, for the hazelnut and it’s creamy chocolate counterpart.