Everyone knows Nutella has basically he same nutritional profile as cake frosting, and that you should eat it about as often.
Yesterday in the store I saw something called ‘Bionella’ — Organic Nutella. Look how healthy it looks! Green stripes everywhere, two certification stickers, even the font looks humble and nourishing.
Ingredients! OK, this is in German so that’s annoying, but the gist is, Nutella is 13% hazelnuts. The other 87 percent is basically sugar and fat. ‘Reduced fat cocoa’ and ‘skim milk powder’ are both more than half sugar, and there’s not even that much of them in here. By contrast, even the Acme peanut butter you buy at the dollar store is at least 87% peanuts.
So how’s Bionella compare? It’s … 14% hazelnuts! And has exactly the same ingredients as the non-organic Nutella!
As you would expect from two products made from exactly the same things, the nutrition information is about equal.
Though organic Nutella has more calories, less protein and more fat than the non-organic version. Somehow they have taken our culture’s most potent caloric napalm and made it even more powerful. I’m almost impressed.
The one thing you can say about Nutella, at least it’s cheap. In Europe they sell tubs of this stuff the size of human babies for less than it costs to take the train to go get them.
And … nice. Apparently if you want those extra calories, you’re going to have to pay for them.
In the kind of news designed for talk-show monologues, a woman is suing the makers of Nutella for claiming that the chocolate-and-hazelnut goop is good for you.
There’s a tendency to look at these stories and have a kneejerk reaction against the woman filing the lawsuit. How the hell didn’t she know that Nutella is bad for you? Look at it! Taste it! Read the label! The comments on the article are almost exclusively of the ‘give me a break!’ variety.
But do we really want to live in a country where a product that is less nutritious than a milkshake can be marketed as a reasonable breakfast food for children? The government in this case failed to do its job of preventing a company from lying to its customers. This woman, and this lawsuit, are trying to fill that gap.
This is not an isolated incident. As Marion Nestle’s always pointing out at Food Politics, food companies are allowed to say all kinds of bonkers shit on their packaging. This cereal, for example, is at least one-third composed of marshmallows:
The fact that Nutella lied and that this woman is an idiot are not mutually exclusive. In cases where an ignorant individual is fighting against a dishonest corporation, though, I think our contempt should go first toward the one doing the lying, rather than the one who believed what they were told.