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World Nutella Day and Maltesers Teasers: we’ve all gone crazy for chocolate spread!

To celebrate World Nutella Day (February 5), Rhodri Marsden explores our obsession with the chocolatey spread, from eating 350 million kg of the stuff a year to naming our children after it (yes, really). And can Maltesers Teasers spread ever hope to compare?

Warning! At the stroke of midnight on February 5 we shall ooze unctuously into World Nutella Day. Many millions of us, either deliberately or accidentally, fail to leave a jar and spoon out for Santa Nutella and regard an annual Nutella celebration as a preposterous idea. A bit like World Jiffy Bag Day, or International Night Of Thimbles, neither of which exist, as far as I’m aware. But Nutella can provoke strong emotions. Back in October a couple from the northern French town of Valenciennes named their daughter Nutella, and last week a judge ruled that this was illegal. He explained that the name could only lead to “teasing or disparaging thoughts”, although I bet she’d feel pretty good about herself on World Nutella Day. 

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A woman by the name of Sara Rosso started the annual tradition in 2007, presumably during some kind of hazelnut-fuelled personal crisis. It’s been going strong ever since, aside from a small blip in 2013 when the manufacturer, Ferrero, accidentally sent her a cease and desist order, which must have been traumatic. The WND website contains the “Top 10 Signs You’re Addicted To Nutella”, which you’d hope would include “Compiling A List Of Top 10 Reasons Why Nutella Is Better Than A Boyfriend”, which also feature on the website.

But there’s no question that the annual event, and Nutella itself, is becoming frighteningly popular. If you thought that personalized number plates were the epitome of self-indulgence, you should have seen Selfridges Food Hall at Christmas, when they sold jars of Nutella with a personalised label like the one pictured above (unless your name is Nutella, in which case they presumably just sold you a jar of Nutella). Personalized Nutella garments are widely available, reminding the world that you like Nutella and that they really ought to get stuck into some Nutella.

A relevant mega-stat: Ferrero now buys 25% of the entire world’s hazelnut output. As a species we eat more than 350 million kg of Nutella each year, and to put that into some kind of unhelpful context which ruins the impact of the initial figure, that’s 0.15g per day for every human being on the planet. This meagre portion only delivers 0.07% of our recommended daily intake of fat. GIVE US MORE CHOCOLATEY SPREAD!

And to that end, last week saw the relaunch of Maltesers Teasers Spread, which is no more complex than it appears. It’s spreadable Maltesers. Malteser sandwiches are no longer the reckless dream of the bored student with Maltesers in his pocket and crusts of Sunblest in his kitchen. They now appear to be officially sanctioned by Mars (that’s the company, not the Roman god of war, who preferred Fluff Marshmallow Spread). Now, it’s easy to pour scorn upon Maltesers Teasers Spread, to regard it with a fist-sized ball of sneering contempt, but hang on a second. Maybe history is merely repeating itself. Maybe this is just the way food moves forward. Maybe everything will become spreadified, in time. Maybe the bloke who invented paté was originally laughed out of town by a group of Frenchmen who couldn’t understand why he’d made their pork all spready. Yes! Maybe Maltesers Teasers Spread is a civilising force! 

Or maybe I’ve gone too far.

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@Rhodri