This is how the name Nutella was born: the story by Maria Franca Fissolo Ferrero, wife of the inventor

Apr 19 2024, 18:02
Sixty years of the legendary Nutella, the sweet invention of Michele Ferrero, remembered by his wife as a tireless inventor with a white apron

Sixty years of Nutella and love. Maria Franco Fissolo Ferrero shared life and business with Michele Ferrero, the inventor of the world's most famous spread, Kinder eggs, and even Tic Tacs. In an interview with Corriere della Sera, the widow reminisces, offering a precise portrait of her husband, to whom the Italian industry owes much.

Michele Ferrero, an inventor with an apron

Living on a hill in Alba, overlooking the Nutella factory. "Michele always had the company in his mind," Maria said, "and he was happy to have it in his eyes too. When we arrived here, he only said: 'You can see well.' He was a keen observer, but above all, a curious and tireless scholar. "In my memory, I always see a man in a white apron doing tests and tastings in the laboratory." Never a photo, "never an interview, never on television, never at a public event." They were a reserved couple, only years later did Mr. Ferrero choose to encapsulate his life in a narrative, provided that the book be published posthumously: "As long as I'm alive, I don't want it to be said that I spoke to a journalist."

The first date and the invention of the name Nutella

The first date, after a series of refusals from Maria, was at a newly opened restaurant in Pino Torinese, on the occasion of Expo Italia '61. Then there was another house, children came, and also Nutella, which initially was called Supercrema. The insight for the name came one afternoon in Frankfurt: "At 5:30 pm, we returned to the hotel, his mother was also there, and we had to go to dinner at 6, as was customary in Germany. But he said he would go out for a moment. Half an hour passed, then an hour, his impatient mother wanted to go down to call him, I held her back telling her that he must have something important on his mind."

"After two hours, I went down and met him in the lobby, we went up in the elevator, and he said to me, 'Maria, don't tell me anything, my mind needs to be free, give me a little more time because I'm almost there.' He stood by the window staring at the river, and then turned to me and said, 'Nutella.' I looked at him as one looks at a madman and said, 'But what are you talking about? What is Nutella?' And he, as if having a vision, replied, 'It's the name of the product that will run around the world.'"

Maria saw that enlightened look several times over the years, starting with the invention of the Kinder egg: "To convince mothers and grandmothers to buy it, he explained to me, he had to put more milk and less cocoa and a little surprise inside. And then he lit up: 'It will be Easter all year round.'" Ferrero, today, "continues to grow" with son Giovanni carrying on his father's legacy. And with the legendary Nutella, which has been enchanting generations of children for 60 years.

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