French figures: The chocolate spread that caused a riot

France is renowned worldwide for its fine cheeses, wine and patisseries. But there is one thing the country goes absolutely mad over, and it's not really French at all.

French figures: The chocolate spread that caused a riot
Photo: AFP

France is Nutella-obsessed.

They butter thick layers of the sweet, nutty chocolate spread on their tartines (slices of bread), crêpes (French pancakes) and gaufres (waffles).

No food product can outcompete Nutella in France, according to a 2020 review of what groceries French shops sold most (apart from wine).

Not only did Nutella claim the top sport, it featured on five of the 10 most-sold items. Its different pot-sizes (1kg, 975g, 750g and 400g) all outcompeting milk as most popular grocery.

REVEALED: This is how popular Nutella is in France

But Nutella isn't really French. It originated in Italy, first produced by the company Ferrero back in the 1960s.

Today the company has production sites in France, and the world's largest Nutella factory is in situated near Rouen, in the northwestern region Normandy.

*tell the universe what you want*

Me: Nutella and Biscoff Crepes by @ptheledge ?? #missguided

— Missguided (@Missguided) January 23, 2020


It seems that the obsession is at least partly linked to nostalgia – a popular post-school snack (goûter) for French children is bread and Nutella. Therefore when adults feel the need for a bit of comfort food, they reach for something that is both sweet and transports them back to childhood.

And we weren't exaggerating when we said they go mad for it – a couple of years back, a 70 percent Nutella discount at the Intermarché supermarket chain turned into a 'riot', with customers jostling and battling each other to get their hands on the pots.

READ ALSO: What the 'great Nutella riots' tell us about the French

This article is part of The Local France's 2020 virtual advent calendar – every day until Christmas we will be presenting you with a person or object that has a particular significance to life in France.


Member comments

  1. If you google, Ferrero (company who own Nutella) and child slavery. Then read all the articles about how they were not only take to court for child slavery but charged too. You will never buy Nutella again. Not many people know what an unethical company they are. I really dislike seeing articles talking about how great it is. It’s just chocolate spread! The kids are children we should be protecting.

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French figures: The true spirit of France

This is the incredible story about the teenage girl who became a symbol of France for the ages.

French figures: The true spirit of France
Illustration photo: AFP

The story of Joan of Arc – Jeanne d'Arc in French – begun like many fairytales do: an unlikely hero is chosen to accomplish a dangerous task.

Born around 1412, Joan of Arc was an illiterate peasant girl convinced that divine powers had decided she would fight the English army in France. 

She then did exactly that. 

This was during the so-called Hundred Years’ War, when English troops battled for territory across the country that is now France.

Joan of Arc liberated Orléans city from English forces in a legendary and decisive battle that paved the way for the later French victory in 1453.

Joan of Arc paid for her heroism with her life. She was captured and sold her to the English army, who burned her at the stake in Rouen, northeast France, around 1431. She was approximately 19 years old at the time.

But her short life left a lasting mark on France and in 1920 she was made a Saint. Almost 600 years after her death she is still commemorated and celebrated in France and her spirit is invoked during difficult times for the country.

Known today as “the Maid of Orléans”, Joan of Arc's silhouette is all over the city, ingrained on medallions on the street, cast into sculptures and painted on the boxes of Cotignac, an Orléans culinary speciality.

READ ALSO: Ten reasons why you should visit the French city Orléans

This article is the final instalment of The Local France's 2020 virtual advent calendar – featuring every day a person or thing that has a special place in French culture. To see the whole calendar, click here.