The Wire Debates: Is A Nutella Shortage Really Such A Bad Thing?

With analysts are warning of a shortage of the hazelnuts, two Nutella partisans debate the celebrated spread.

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A Nutella apocalypse is upon us: Analysts are warning of a shortage of the hazelnut chocolate spread.

It's all thanks to failing hazelnut crops in Turkey, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. Ravaged by hail storm, frost, and other unusual weather, crops of hazelnuts—a crucial ingredient for Nutella, numbering more than 50 hazelnuts per 13-ounce jar—have dwindled and forced prices to rise by about 60 percent, which in turn could spell fewer Nutella jars in stores.

But maybe this isn't such a bad thing? The Wire pits two Nutella partisans against each other in a battle over the celebrated spread, analyzing its name, taste, versatility, nutritional value and photogenic abilities.


Shirley: It's hard to come up with one name for something that's made of hazelnuts, chocolate, oil, sugar, milk, and heaven. In fact, when Nutella was first created, it was called "supercrema glanduja," which sort of sounds like a pretentious superhero, but also sounds like someone who would really be good at cooking.

Anyway, the name changed to "Nutella" in 1964 (it celebrated its 50th anniversary in May), and that name does the trick—you get the fact that it's got nutty goodness, it's cheekily whimsical, and the soft suffix "–ella" also points to its Italian background. (It was made by Pietro Ferrero of Ferrero Rocher, Tic Tacs, and other confections.) The name, like the product, sweetly rolls off your tongue.

Adam: For many, just whispering the name Nutella conjures up an afternoon in an airy Mediterranean port town, surrounded by gondoliers, cigarette smoke, and the ringing of church bells.

Let's ditch the sophistry here. Nutella is a spread. Contemplate that word in a food sense. Spread. None of the lightness of a shmear, just leaden burden. Plus, with just 13 percent actual hazelnut, it's way more ella than nut.


Shirley: Nutella packs a punch because it's nuts and chocolate (two for the price of one!). It used to be so good that Italian kids would apparently toss the bread and only eat Nutella—which is admittedly bad.

Nowadays, responsible parents lather healthy foodstuffs (think whole wheat bread, fruit, etc.) in Nutella and children gobble them up. It's not really tricking your kids because Nutella is also (sort of) good for you (more on that later).

Adam: In 2012, Ferrero, the company that makes Nutella, settled for millions of dollars after it was sued for falsely promoting the health benefits of its product.

But what Ferrero really should have been sued for is how disgusting their product tastes. Molten, chalky, thick, and causing unslakable thirst, Nutella is something you eat when you don't want to be hungry again for days.


Shirley: Nutella is the perfect partner for any snack. It's the Sundance Kid to bread's Butch Cassidy. The Robin to Ritz crackers' Batman. The Clyde to crepes' Bonnie. None of these references make total sense, but point is, Nutella can be consumed with more than just bread. Try it with waffles, ice cream, strawberries, bagels, cake—anything. Here's Nutella on french toast with S'mores:

Here's Nutella on crepes with *strawberries*:


Adam: What can you really do with Nutella, aside from give yourself diabetes?I'll concede that I stumble into a once-in-a-decade craving for a Nutella and banana crepe, but usually when I'm in a country where the only other food option is a ramekin of pitted olives.

But what about when you have options? Nutella on toast? Gross. Waffles? Can you honestly tell me you wouldn't be begging for whipped cream? There's nothing Nutella does that peanut butter or chocolate doesn't do better. Moreover, there's no point in keeping up the charade for the sake of seeming continental.

According to Mental Floss, there are only two reasons why the world started eating Nutella: Napoleon and Hitler. The machinations of the two men caused worldwide chocolate shortages and chocolate-makers had to cut their chocolate with hazelnuts to get back. The subtext: War is hell and hazelnut is an ersatz filler.


REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Shirley: Imagine if those shelves were empty. The world would suck. The end.

Adam: Can you imagine how long it would take to clean up this mess if the shelves collapsed and the jars all broke?


Shirley: Nutella has less fat and sodium content compared to peanut butter. Proof: This comparison on the right between the superior Nutella and Jif brand peanut butter, with similar serving sizes. Nutella is healthier! I mean, it's not exactly weight loss-friendly, but it's enough to give it a leg up over bland/ordinary/boring peanut butter.

Adam:  What do you get when your product has over ten grams of sugars per tablespoon and you hawk it as a breakfast food? A lawsuit. The standard Nutella serving size is two tablespoons, a double dollop that contains 21 grams of sugar. That's more sugar than two Krispy Kreme donuts.


Shirley: Here's Nutella in a nutshell (see what I did there?): It's delicious, goes with anything, and just slightly healthier than the alternative. I think this tweet sums it up nicely:

Adam: Not everyone loves hazelnuts. I do. Which is why I hate to see the sophisticated cobnut relegated to Nutella synonym. Hazelnuts are neither the first nor second ingredient in Nutella. The first, as we know, is sugar. The second is palm oil, which is bad for the environment and high in saturated fat. The rest is commentary.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.