Nutella's lawyers shut down World Nutella Day: STOP LIKING US SO MUCH!

Lawyers for Ferrero, SpA (makers of the Nutella spread) have sent a legal threat to Sara Rosso, who founded and maintains the World Nutella Day site, where they promote Nutella through recipes, tweets, stories, and (obviously) an annual day devoted to the sugary gloop. Rosso has capitulated and will no longer promote their products for them.

Seven years after the first World Nutella Day in 2007, I never thought the idea of dedicating a day to come together for the love of a certain hazelnut spread would be embraced by so many people! I’ve seen the event grow from a few hundred food bloggers posting recipes to thousands of people Tweeting about it, pinning recipes on Pinterest, and posting their own contributions on Facebook! There have been songs sung about it, short films created for it, poems written for it, recipes tested for it, and photos taken for it.

The cease-and-desist letter was a bit of a surprise and a disappointment, as over the years I’ve had contact and positive experiences with several employees of Ferrero, SpA., and with their public relations and brand strategy consultants, and I’ve always tried to collaborate and work together in the spirit and goodwill of a fan-run celebration of a spread I (to this day) still eat.

A Goodbye to World Nutella Day? (Thanks, Rebecca!)


  1. Another product to boycott and I LOVE Nutella. Nutella on a slice of olive oil slathered baguette, sprinkled with coarse salt… Happily, it’s easy to make and tastes better than the stuff in the jar. Why do these corporations cut off their noses to spite their faces?

    1. easy to make?? I’ve tried many disappointing nutella alternatives. What’s the secret?

      1. patchouli and vanilla … believe it or not hazelnut flavoring is not just made from roasted hazelnuts, most hazelnut flavoring has some vanilla and patchouli in it, just be careful to use food grade oils and not too much it is very very easy to overpower patchouli and it needs to be a under note, not a primary flavor component.

        roast the hazelnuts and place in a food processor with some salt, coco powder, sugar, coconut oil, a few drops of vanilla and 1-2 drops of patchouli.  blend until smooth.  enjoy.

    2. I don’t use real Nutella – it contains palm oil, which is farmed in cut-down rainforests that are the primary habitat for orangutans and Indonesian tigers and rhinos, all of which are seriously endangered species.

      But my one attempt at homemade Nutella-alternative worked really well.  There are two main recipes out there – a complicated one that uses cream and cooking, and a simple one that just throws ingredients in a food processor (including some coconut oil instead of palm oil.)  I used a non-refined coconut oil, so it tasted a bit more coconutty than necessary, but it was highly addictive.  I’ve been meaning to try the cream version some time, but should probably just burn another batch of the simple recipe.

      Trader Joe’s sometimes carries a cocoa-hazelnut spread that uses sunflower oil.  They also carry toasted hazelnuts, which is what I used for the spread.

  2. Used to be having your customers doing the advertising for you was a good thing.  Now, they probably want total control.

    Or maybe some guy in the law departments said, “Hey, what if a stampede of buffalo runs through some get together this guy organized and we get blamed?”

    Or, “We saw a discussion on Twitter about our product and somehow Hitler came up. We simply can’t have that.”

    1. i think that’s the biggest thing: risk aversion.
      if someone is doing something in their name they worry it could hurt their brand if something bad happens or that they might be liable.
      they want safe advertising.

  3. sad when a company makes the HUGE mistake of alienating their biggest fans and destroys a powerful grass roots promotional channel.  so typical of modern corporations to lose site of the bigger picture in an attempt to micromanage and control their brand identity.  sad.

          1. Yep, when the lawyers give the executives terrible advice, there’s no penalty. Hey, it’s just advice, you’re the ones who actually followed it. See also: consultants.

      1. *not sure if actually confused or just have pedantic stick up ass*

        Giving you the benefit of the doubt, I was using the term “biggest fans” in the way that it is *always* used, to mean both most active, most vocal, and most adamant fans.  It is never ever used to refer to girth or actual physical size of the fans themselves, the big modifies the implied size of their fandom, not the size of the fans.  in this case it would mean the biggest advocates of their company.

        Similarly #1 fans does not mean the first fans, it means the most adamant fans, in case you ever run into this usage in the future as well.

        If this was not actual confusion and just a pendantic ocd glitch you couldn’t help turreting into the comments, then please just carry on and have my empathy, i’ve know several people who suffer from this affliction.

        1. Nutella’s vocal minority is a subset of the biggest fan. I would consider myself a big fan of Nutella, for example. I do not care if they wish to be (arguably) over protective of their brand, as long as they continue to make Nutella.

          I didn’t comment for the sake of disagreement – I was just making a point off the back of another comment. No negativity intended (this time).

          1. Ah, I understand the point you are making now.

            In that case, I’d (politely) argue that there is a distinct difference between level enjoyment of a product and actual fandom.  You may really really really enjoy Nutella and hence classify yourself as a fan of their product, but I’d put forth that while your enjoyment is HUGE, your fandom itself is not, you are a passive fan.

            at least that is how i’d think of it…

            Now these people just don’t know where to draw the line:

  4. Will WNDers glom together, and in their wondrous rapture, firmly and gooily spread more celebrations across the globe for years into the future??
    If so, put away the butter knife and use a spatula: Gajantic!
    (K that was fun for me, I gotta tell ya)

  5. I’m fucking sick of all the people trying to get me to eat Nutella. It’s made from hazelnuts and vanilla, both of which make me sick!

    1. Yeah! I’m sick of people trying to get me to eat bacon or listen to Daft Punk or watch football! When will people learn not to talk enthusiastically about anything I don’t like? Do I need to make them a list of what to avoid?!

      1. To be fair, nobody’s ever died from anaphylactic shock due to Daft Punk, although they do give me hives, but then I turn them off and listen to The Hives.

      2. It’s *not* about people “responding enthusiastically.”

        It’s about people demanding that I have some. demanding that I give it just one try. ignoring that I have tried it and have found it makes me sick. *Ignoring that we don’t need to explain our refusals.*

        It’s about people who respond to learning about our allergies and other bad reactions by assuming we’re faking and adding some of the allergen to our food.

        It’s about respect.

        And then you mock us for raising the issue.

        1. You must hang out in very different social circles. I’ve never had anyone “demand” that I try something that I tell them I don’t like.

          1. As an extremely picky eater, I’ve found there is a certain type of person who makes it their mission in life to make people try their favourite foods. Saying that you don’t like something is taken as a personal insult. They will enter into a battle of wills with you to try to force you to try it in front of them. If you give in, try it, then tell them that you really don’t like it, they will insist that you didn’t really give it a chance.

          2. Would you, could you, eat it under an umbrella? Would you, could you eat it with a fella? Why won’t you eat green eggs and Nutella?

            (Oh crap, I sense TWO sets of lawyers gunning for me…)

          3. To stop that, you could say “Well, the last time I tried it I vomited. But if you insist I try it again, stand right in front of me so I can tell you what I think…”

            Or you could always say “I’m allergic to one of the ingredients.” even if you’re not.

    2. I like hazelnuts. One spoonful of hazelnut per liter of sugar, not so much. And vanilla smells like old lady bath oil beads.

      Ingredients: sugar, modified palm oil, hazelnuts, cocoa, skim milk, reduced minerals whey (from milk), soy lecithin; an emulsifier, vanillan; an artificial flavor

      1.  It’s like crack or heroin or cigarettes. Not so good for you but for some people one taste and the endorphins kick in. Tell the kids to stay away from it (as I shuffle down the sidewalk with an empty plastic jar, the tell tale sticky brown stuff under my fingernails and streaked on my chin).

      2. It’s totally a childhood thing for me — intense memories of visiting my grandparents in Germany, back before you could find any Nutella in the States. I still love it, but I can totally see your point.

        I did find this hippie stuff called “Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter” at Whole Foods that is a lot more hazelnutty. It’s not at all the same as Nutella, but I like it too.

      3. Palm oil plantations are really devastating to tropical rainforests too. Nutella is totally junk food and is killing the planet. I’ll pass.

        1. Though for anyone that wants to buy the spread without the palm oil, Aldi makes that. 

        2. Oook!  Palm oil plantations are particularly a threat to orangutans and the Indonesian rhinoceroses and tigers, because those rainforests are their main habitat.

          But there are some non-palm-oil hazelnut chocolate spreads out there, and if you’ve got a food processor, some of the homemade recipes are easy and really addictive.

          Almost all fried ramen noodles use palm oil, mainly because it’s cheap and saturated.  There are a few made with canola, and there are non-fried ramens that I like just as well.

    3. With all love and kindness, if you have a huge number of friends all of whom are saying, “Eat the Nutella! Damn it, EAT THE NUTELLA”… you need new friends.

        1. Only if you protect it against its own supporters. You could compare that to an allergic reaction, with the drawback of missing antihistamines.

          1. Legally, you have to protect your trademark against any infringing use, even if you agree. The means of doing so is open for some degree of latitude.

          2.  Please explain how organizing a world nutella day is an infringing use of a trademark?

          3. The mere act of being a fan of a brand doesn’t somehow make the subsequent dilution you cause any more valuable to the trademark holder. It also doesn’t afford you special rights over how to publicise the brand.
            However the argument I would make is that the site is unlikely to have any positive OR negative impact on their brand – so I’m not sure who’s wasting the most of their time; us discussing it, BB reporting it, or Nutella actioning it. Either way I really fancy a Nutella sandwich.

      1. A glorious victory for those of us who abhor atrocious footwear.

        Next on the docket:  Uggs.

    1. Say, isn’t nutella the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex.

      1. I’d be willing to give that a whirl, as long as the steak isn’t garnished with the head.

      1. I like peanut butter, and I like jelly, but I hate the two of them together and always have.  I also hate milk in my cereal so clearly I just hate ‘Murrica.

        1.  I hate them for their false sense of cheeriness and polluting of ambient sound and simple silence.

  6. Cool! Now that the brains trust at Ferrero has taken away the ability of their fans to promote their product it falls into the hands of mean spirited trolls like me to do it for them. Ferrero Execs: I had no problem with, and enjoyed eating nutella until reading this article. You can has sensible PR department?


    Aren’t you glad you left it to me?

    1. Um…thank you for the NSFW tag! The auto-displaying thumbnails on a big screen are another thing though :P

      1. Hey man, tell me about it… I posted that at work from my 27″ monitor… which is meters from the CEOs desk.

        Totally worth it!

  7. Someone who is more savvy on these things: can you clear up the reason why Nutella might have done this? Yes, it’s easy to say “because they’re stupid,” and I wouldn’t argue that overmuch. But is the legal justification based on making profits from web adverts (which I assume barely cover hosting) and an electronic recipe book?  Is there a distinction between a fan site and capitalizing on someone else’s brand for profit?

    Let me clarify that I think that this was a colossal PR blunder, and I’m not intending to even approach defending their actions. This will definitely make me hesitate to buy Nutella in the future, and I will now associate the brand with infuriating legal chicanery instead of tasty food. Just curious where the perceived damage to the brand or company came in here.

    1. as someone above posted, it’s likely risk aversion. i think they are worried that someone might get hurt and nutella might somehow be liable, or it could just be copyright maximalists going “you shall not use our brand name for anything!”

    2. Under US Trademark Laws, you are required to protect your trademark, or you lose exclusive rights to it.

      The group here does not own the rights to the Trademark, nor have they ever acquired any licensing from the trademark holder to use the trademark. Under US Law, Nutella honestly does not have any real option but to send a cease and desist if they wish to retain sole rights to the trademark.

      1. In your comment, you hint to another option.  Nutella could’ve offered a low- or no-cost license to the fan site in order to avoid the shit PR and boycotts they’re going to get instead.

        1. Quite correct. But, generally, these are completely separate organization within large companies to do this. And, quite often, the cease-and-desist comes from a contracted 3rd party who is not part of the company in question.

          1. Likely.  The first and second parties need to do a better job firing their third party when corporate profit maximalization is threatened by ham-handed trademark protectionism.

  8. Most companies would kill to have the following that Nutella has. ARE THEY NUTS?

    /couldn’t resist

  9. My kids love Nutella.  They also annually get Norovirus.  One bad year, clearing beds of chocolatey rear-end mess for the third time in one night, I involuntarily formed a permanent association between what I was seeing and Nutella.

    Haven’t touched it since.

    1.  When I was a kid, I made a similar irrational mental association between crabs and scorpions – it probably came from reading about these guys. I think I got over it about the time I discovered cioppino.

  10. I´m not sure what is more absurd to me, creating a viral marketing campaign for a highly commercialized product with tons of marketing budget for free or for the producer of said product to fight that campaign.

  11. Lawyers on retainer have to justify their expensive fees.  “Hmmm, here is a guy using the trademark, billable hours!”

  12. This is as good a place as any to announce my new product, Nutelha,® the Sustainably Harvested Rainforest Alternative™ to Nutella! It’s made from Brazil nuts and carob, sweetened with stevia. It tastes like crap!

    1. Not to mention that every jar would probably set off homeland security detectors due to radium in the brasil nuts.

  13. Just out of curiosity, has anyone verified that the firm who sent the letter DOES INDEED represent Nutella’s parent company?  As opposed to just acting without their explicit endorsement?

    The company most likely hires a lawyer on retainer to send these out to anyone who infringes their IP, but doesn’t actually oversee them- after all, that’s what they hire lawyers for.  I imagine that there’s a possibility if an executive personally looked at the site, they very well may just call off the dogs in the interest of good PR. 

    My first step, were I Ms Rosso, would be to simply contact the company directly and ask what gives. Worst case, they tell her the same thing the letter did. Best case, they tell her to ignore it while they fire somebody in legal. Either way, there’s no harm in making a phone call.

  14. One has to wonder if the legal side had any communications with the PR side?  She should definitely get in touch with the PR people and ask “what the hell is going on?”

    This could be auto-messages from some legal firm hired to hunt down trademark issues.  (Shocking, I know, to think there are law firms operating without due diligence or real oversight,)

  15. I use Nutella as a contact lens solution, and am constantly on the lookout for little portable Nutella packets because when I’m forced to buy the 1L jar at the duty free as soon as I land, I end up with that bloated feeling by the end of the trip.

    1.  Have you tried making a paste of Arm & Hammer baking soda and spreading it on toast?

  16. It’s all okay now:

  17. Hey Nutella (or any other corporation), I’m one of those dime-a-dozen, technocratic asshole lawyers who can help you cherry-pick paragraphs in law books, assist you in tarnishing your image so you can lose clients, all in the name of keeping meaningless power and tight-fisted control over everything.

    With my fee, I can maintain my daily diet of USDA Prime prime rib lunches and lobster dinners.
    Or maybe you could round up me and my kind, cram us in the middle of the Nevada desert, and nuke us vacuous bastards into oblivion.  Please?

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