During WW2 a shortage of chocolate in Italy drove cocoa prices up. In turn, this price surge drove one Pietro Ferrero – Nutella’s Italian creator – to look for a cheaper alternative.
He decided to combine hazelnuts – which were cheap and easily available locally – with just a little cocoa, thus creating the lovable Nutella flavor we know today. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention 🙂
Bonus Fact 1: Nutella began its life as a solid product that could be sliced and served on bread or separately. But, due to mothers complaining that their kids threw away the “nutritious” bread and ate only the chocolate, Ferrero prepared a spreadable version … and the rest is history.
Bonus fact 2: The Mayans were probably the first to use cocoa beans for food followed by the Aztecs. They would make bitter (sugar-free) beverages from ground cocoa beans, sometimes with spicy pepper and vanilla.
How did WW2 make Nutella what it is today? This drink was used as an aphrodisiac and considered to be a cure for various diseases, primarily for abdominal pain. Back then, for Europeans, this bitter drink was considered an “acquired taste”.
Bonus fact 3: The first to import cocoa to Europe was Hernan Cortes. He brought cocoa beans back to Spain as a gift to King Carlos I after noticing that the locals treat these beans as very valuable.