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Nutella is a brand name of a hazelnut chocolate spread that was first introduced in 1963. Online, the food has become associated with hipster subculture, attracting a large amount of fans across social media, especially on Tumblr.
The first version of the spread was created in the 1940s by Pietro Ferrero, who chose to add hazelnuts to the product to make the rationed supply of chocolate due to World War II last longer. He sold the first product, a solid brick of chocolate known as Pasta Gianduja, in 1946. Five years later, in 1951, he released a spreadable version called Supercrema Gianduja (shown below, left). The name was taken from a marionette style character representing the town of Turin that originally appeared in Italy’s Commedia dell’Arte (shown below, right). The product was renamed Nutella in 1964 as part of a campaign to market the spread throughout Europe. The company currently celebrated the birthday of Nutella on April 20th.
Online discussions of Nutella began as early as the 1990s on the Furry newsgroup alt.fan.furry, where people would consistently joke about sharing Nutella covered dog biscuits. In 2002, a thread discussing its health value was posted to the Low-Carber Forums and later that year, a pornographic fanfiction story involving the condiment and members of the 1980s rock band Duran Duran was shared on a personal Geocities page. Also in the early 2000s, Nutella was discussed on the Straight Dope message board, cooking message board eGullet and language blog Diacritiques. The brand name was first defined on Urban Dictionary in July 2005, misattributing it as a French product.
In November 2008, a Yahoo! Answers user claimed they were addicted to Nutella and were seeking help to curb their cravings. A Nutella subreddit was established in September 2010 and has approximately 350 subscribers. Since 2012, Nutella has been discussed on Best Roof Talk Ever, the Escapist and the Body Building forums. Additionally, humorous images and jokes about Nutella have appeared on Cracked, Memebase, Meme Center, FunnyJunk and Reddit, which has more than 5,900 posts about the chocolate spread. Nutella images are also popular on Tumblr where four single topic blogs dedicated to the spread have been created since August 2010: All Things Nutella, Nutella Lovers Welcome, Nutella Every Day and Fuck Yeah Nutella.
Class Action Lawsuit
In February 2011, a Californian mother filed a class action lawsuit against Ferrero USA claiming they were deceptively marketing Nutella as a healthy breakfast food, misrepresenting itself as nutritious. The suit claimed Nutella was composed of more than 70% processed sugar and saturated fat and asked the company to cease mismarketing the product followed by a corrective advertising campaign. Later that month, a similar suit was filed in New Jersey by an Alabama resident. A settlement to the California was proposed in November 2011, but did not go into effect until April 2012, when Ferrero agreed to pay $3 million dollars in total and up to $20 per person to people who purchased the spread between 2008 and 2012.
The brand created a Facebook fan page on July 28th, 2008 which has accrued more than 17 million likes as of April 2013. Additionally, the brand has branched off in to localized Facebook fan pages for eleven different countries and regions. Nutella Italy also maintains a Twitter account that has more than 7,600 followers as of April 2013.
In Hipster Culture
Nutella became associated with hipsters as early as 2010, when a Yahoo! Answers question was asked, inquiring about the link between the two. As of April 2013, there are dozens of Tumblr bloggers who associate hipsters and Nutella in their URLs but do not post about the chocolate spread, with many of the posts focusing on fashionable young women, inspirational photo quotes and nebula GIFs. This trend dates back to July 2011 when Hipsters-Gone-Nutella launched.
World Nutella Day
In 2007, bloggers Sara Rosso and Michelle Fabio decided to launch World Nutella Day to celebrate the chocolate spread. They launched the domain NutellaDay.com to organize the event, which continues to happen annually on February 5th. Images of the celebrations are shared via the event’s official Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as in a Flickr pool and a Pinterest tag.
Association of Corporate Counsel – Ferrero settles with California plaintiffs in Nutella® false advertising class action