What makes Ferrero chocolate so special?
I can bet that if I say “ Nutella” you know what I am talking about: sweet and velvety, you can love it, you can hate it, but it is one of the most famous (if not THE most famous) chocolate spread with hazelnuts. Maybe you do not know that Ferrero Group, the company that produces it, was a small family-lead pastry shop in the 1940s! How did the Ferrero family reach such an international success with a simple hazelnut spread? Their story is one that tells how Piedmontese Chocolate so special.
The history of the Ferrero family
Pietro Ferrero, a Piedmontese entrepreneur, owned a pastry shop in Alba in 1942. At the time, Alba was a small village in the countryside, and it was a tough period. During and right after the Second World War cocoa was a very expensive product and it was difficult to find. How can you run a pastry shop without chocolate? Pietro Ferrero did not lose hope and started to experiment with a combination of cheaper ingredients to create a solid sweet product that could resemble chocolate. He decided to put hazelnuts in the mix because they were locally produced, cheap, and easy to find. He mixed them with powdered milk, treacle and coconut oil, and after many attempts, in 1946 he succeeded: the Giandujot (from the name of a traditional mask of the Piedmontese carnival, if you want to know more about it you can read this article).
Thanks to the success of the Giandujot, that same year Pietro Ferrero and his wife Piera Cilliario turned the pastry shop in a small industrial factory, founding the Ferrero company that we all know. The Giandujot recipe was modified by Michele Ferrero, Pietro’s son, creating an easily spreadable product, called Supercrema (literally “super cream”) and after some years the most famous chocolate spread was born. Yes, you got it right, it was the Nutella, born in 1964. Its name derives from the English word “nut”, but the pronunciation is “n-oo-tella”. It was sold in glass jars, shaped like a glass. This packaging choice was very effective for two reasons: on the one hand, the glass packaging was a symbol of high quality, and on the other hand, Ferrero, decorating the jars with nice illustrations and patterns, encouraged people to repurpose them as a glasses, making its product unique and recognizable.
After Nutella’s success, Ferrero opened a lot of plants both in Europe. The number of original Ferrero products has increased through the years: think about pralines Mon Cherì, Pocket Coffee, Ferrero Rocher and Raffaello, all the Kinder snacks, Tic tac, Estathé teas…they are a lot!
The secrets of the company’s success
The man that led the company during those crucial years of growth and expansion and that invented a lot of now-super-famous products, is Michele Ferrero, often called “mister Nutella”. Extremely passionate about his job, Michele said that he took the inspiration for his products from his imaginary typical consumer “Miss Valeria”. Woman, mother, grandmother, she is a mindful consumer, she wants only the best for her children and nephews. Michele knew that to be successful he had to conquer costumers’ trust and never betray it. For this reason, for instance, during summer chocolate-based products are taken off the market, because Valeria would never want to buy melted chocolates.
Currently led by Giovanni, Michele’s son, the Ferrero Group has plants and headquarters all over the world. This year, to celebrate the 75th birthday of this Italian industrial excellence, the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finances has issued the silver coin dedicated to Nutella, minted by the State mint, with a denomination of 5 euros.
The chocolate-making tradition in Piedmont: Calcagno 1946
The Piedmontese chocolatier and pastry tradition is very rich, and while Ferrero has become a commercial producer there are a lot of excellent artisanal companies that turn chocolate and hazelnuts into irresistible goodness. Let me present to you one of these local producers!
Calcagno 1946 company was founded in Turin, the Piedmont capital, the same year as the Ferrero one. Its founders, like the Ferrero family, managed to carry on their pastry shop despite the tough period, betting everything on hazelnuts. Calcagno 1946 produces different chocolate spreads: Piedmontese Chocolate spread, made with the ancient recipe, Unusual Chocolate spread, rich in hazelnuts, and Dark Chocolate spread with dark chocolate for those who love more intense flavors. The main ingredient is the “Tonda Gentile Trilobata” hazelnut, a Piedmontese Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) product.
– Until next time, With love!