My first memory of Nutella was when I was an exchange student in Paris in the early ‘90s. We had gone up to Fontainebleau for a day of biking and about midway through my host mom unpacked a jar of Nutella and a fresh baguette. I don‘t think anything has ever tasted as good as that simple snack; from the first bite of that chocolaty goodness, I knew I was hooked for life.
As it turns out, I’m not alone in this one sided love affair. Millions of people who have visited Europe since the 1960s have experienced both the confusion and subsequent joy caused by this strange cross between a meal and a snack.
Nutella is a spread made of a combination of hazelnut, cocoa, milk and other ingredients. This hazelnut spread, as it is marketed in many countries, was originally developed in Italy and became mass produced in the early 1960s. It became an instant success and quickly became a mainstay of most European kitchens.
This snack of the masses though has transcended its intended purpose as a cheap chocolate spread substitute. Because it wasn’t available in the US until the 1980s, this distinctly European food has bonded generations of tourists into a fraternity of food.
Because of the memories of great trips and once in a lifetime experiences it recollects, Nutella has laid claim to a part of the traveler’s emotional soul that has made it an indelible part of the European experience. Add to these memories the fact that Nutella crepes in Paris and Nutella gelato in Rome are two of the best street food experiences you will have anywhere in the world, and suddenly you have travel domination by a sandwich spread.
Nutella is not alone in captivating the thoughts and emotions of travelers, there are dozens of foods and unique activities that bind us all together into a finely woven quilt of traveling experiences. What makes these experiences so important is that they transcend background and education, and instead create a communality that would not exist otherwise.
So how can Nutella save the world? People who travel have a special bond and serve as citizen diplomats wherever in the world they may be. While this delicious hazel-choco snack may not bring about world peace by itself, the people who spread the Nutella love can.
What are some of your favorite Nutella memories or Nutella inspired food?