Nutella: “Michele Ferrero, Italy’s chocolate king, died on Valentine’s day, aged 89.”

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Nutella had not penetrated the south Hoosier hinterlands in 1985, when I toured Europe for the first time. Somehow I managed to avoid it then, but fell hard in 1987, when a jar became a staple of train trips, youth hostel stays and local bakery visits. It goes surprisingly well with cheap beer snatched hurriedly off the shelf from a corner grocery.

The first place Louisville area establishment in which I saw Nutella offered for sale was Lotsa Pasta.

Fond memories; very, very fond.

Obituary: Michele Ferrero: Sweet secrets, in The Economist

IN THE only interview he ever gave, to La Stampa, Michele Ferrero did not once remove his sunglasses. This was not just to shield his weak eyes, but to conceal himself. Modesty was a habit. People sometimes called him a genius; he would turn the question gently back on them by saying that, yes, his second name was indeed “Eugenio”, and his mother liked to call him that; but he was glad to be simple Michele, the boy with the thick Piedmontese accent whose life had come to revolve round the farmers of the Alta Langa and their abundant, delectable hazelnut crop.

His love of privacy also had a commercial purpose. He needed to keep secret the recipe for his hazelnut-chocolate spread, Nutella, of which 365m kilos are now consumed each year round the world, and which along with more than 20 other confectionery lines made him Italy’s richest man, worth $23.4 billion. He laughed when he heard that the recipe for Coca-Cola was known to only a few directors of the company. Even fewer knew exactly what went into each jar of Nutella.

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