Monday, May 14, 2007

Nutella Face-off: Italy vs. USA

Not far from our house is a little Italian deli, Mastellone Deli & Wine Shop, that makes one of my favorite sandwiches, the "old world Italian" and sells wine and imported Italian (and strangely, a fair amount of Goya products and mate, neither of which is very Italian) foods, cheeses and pasta. We get our Parmesan and mozzarella there and other Italian odds and ends fairly frequently.

We were there in Saturday to buy pignoli nuts (they were out, so we got sandwiches instead) and while we were waiting, I spied a new shipment of Italian Nutella. Now, they always have signs up that that say "Italian Nutella, Taste the Difference" and "The Original Nutella" and I am frequently tempted to get some, but some times, I swear, it is really just American Nutella (both labels are in English but you can tell the difference by the website address listed: you want nutella.it not nutellausa.com) in the bin. This time, however, it was clearly an Italian jar so I picked it up. It came in a reusable drinking glass, which is a fun idea instead of the usual plastic tub. They had a choice of clear glasses and some with images of a cartoon/comic called Monster Allergy. I went for the clear glass because I was unfamiliar with Monster Allergy (apparently it is some sort of Italian Disney owned comic book series) and it wasn't too cute.

Anyway, I brought it home and decided to have a taste test between that and the American stuff in the plastic tub (on the left) I had in the cabinet. And the results were....they taste nearly identical. I'd say that the US one was a little bit sweeter and the Italian more chocolate-y, but really, they were pretty much interchangeable. I am really good at telling the difference between similar products as well. The only real difference was that the Italian Nutella was much thicker than the American Nutella which was pretty soft and peanut butter-like in constancy American Nutella has hydrogenated peanut oil and the Italian jar doesn't, which probably explains its increased spreadablity. Not that Italian wasn't easy to spread, it was just thicker. I am not sure why they would make the American version differently, maybe because we are more used to the creamy style spread of peanut butter?

I am glad I did the test, now I can stop thinking about the Italian Nutella and its possible taste superiority and continue buying the more inexpensive and easily found US version. Not that I would turn down the Italian version (I rather liked the thicker texture and I bet it doesn't seperate like the US jars do sometimes) at only $1 more a jar, if I was at the store and I was out of Nutella, I'd certainly pick it up, but I don't feel bad about generally using the US product.