Pietro Ferrero, a pastry chef in Turin, used to watch workers go to their factories bringing bread with tomatoes and cheese for a meal. He thought that if he could give those workers something sweet and inexpensive to eat with bread, he would hit a jackpot. In Piedmont at the time there was already a kind of chocolate made with cocoa and chopped hazelnuts: the "gianduja". Hazelnuts are abundant in Piedmont and the peasants did not even know what to do with them. In 1925 Pietro Ferrero perfected the so-called "pastone" (pastry mesh) of chocolate and hazelnuts (Nutella's grandfather), very good to eat with bread. Of course, more than by workers, it was immediately appreciated by children, who became Ferrero's target market.
History of Nutella
The Nutella brand
How did this happen? The aura that Ferrero managed to build around this product is amazing. The uniqueness of Nutella is not due to the quality of the product, or to the quality/price ratio but to advertising. Many attempts to imitate the recipe failed miserably, not because Nutella is unreachable from the quality point of view, but because no one was able to produce something equally attractive at the same price. In the popular imagination, Nutella is now the absolute leader and all imitations are seen as inferior. The consumer is accustomed to the taste of Nutella, and wants only that, considering inferior even products with a different, but better taste.
Today advertising aims directly to social and psychological needs with new slogans as "What would the world be like without Nutella?" Nutella is certainly a legendary product, known and appreciated all over the world. But it is really a quality product?
Like Coca-Cola and other companies, Ferrero has a secret recipe, carefully protected in the official factory in Alba. The cocoa butter of 1945 was replaced by a "mixture of vegetable oils", which is one of the best kept secrets from the company. So as not to violate the secret, Ferrero chose to lose some lawsuits (one in the U.S.) aiming at the impossibility of identifying the mysterious "vegetable oils". The ingredients of the recipe in the Italian label are: sugar (56%), vegetable oils (19%), hazelnuts (13%), cocoa, skimmed milk powder (6.6%), whey powder, soy lecithin (emulsifier), vanillin.