It’s easy to forget that Nutella wasn’t actually invented in the United States. The chocolatey spread is ubiquitous across the US, but it’s hard to imagine that it wasn’t what George Washington put on his toast the morning he became president. The European-born nut butter has established a nearly cult-like following since its venture to the United States.
Read on to learn how it established itself as an essential component of the U.S. diet.
Nutella was Europe’s sweeter counterpart to peanut butter and remained largely out of the American diet until 1983. In its 33 years, Nutella’s made great strides, appearing in grocery stores, restaurants, and college dining halls nationwide. It has its own international holiday and drew thousands to New York’s Washington Square Park to celebrate its 50th anniversary (with Nutella-filled cronuts, of course). Hazelnut butter has a devoted following and can even compete with America’s well-established favorite spread, peanut butter. But how did Nutella get this big?
Nutella wasn’t initially intended to be a “hazelnut” spread. Pietro Ferrero used the nut as a filler to increase the volume of spreadable chocolate, due to its post-WWII scarcity. Nutella as we know it was launched by his son in 1964, and it immediately achieved astonishing popularity in Europe. While the spread made its voyage to America less than two decades later, its popularity didn’t reach sky-high levels until fairly recently.
An expanded advertising budget has tripled Nutella’s sales to reach nearly $250 million, and helped it to establish a strong following in the US. The brand found its niche among America’s “hipster” and “foodie” crowds: those who make Nutella Twitter accounts, trek to Eataly to check out the new Nutella Bar, and want a toast spread that’s quirkier than the standard Skippy.
Nutella has done a great job of developing with respect to its core demographic, such as partnering with Dominique Ansel, establishing the aforementioned Eataly stand, and planning a 16-city U.S. food truck tour. And it’s paid off. Dozens of Nutella copycats have been created in recent years and are taking over grocery store shelves. People invent (and actually buy) Nutella-branded products from t-shirts to candles, and put it on everything from grilled cheese to bacon and waffles.
And there you have it: Nutella has taken over the US. From its humble beginnings as peanut butter’s ugly stepsister, it’s proven itself to be the real Cinderella of the nut-butter market, and has even become an (adopted) American icon.