One of these Nutellas is not like the other

Nutella is my crack.  I like to run laps just so I can eat Nutella.  I’m a slave to the hazelnut.  So, when I was eating Nutella out of the jar with a butter knife, shamelessly  the other day, I noticed something.  Take a look.  Do you see it?


No, it’s not the fact that I hoard Nutella jars like a crackhead.

One of the jars, I bought in an American grocery store, made for the American market and one of the jars I bought in a Russian grocery store, made for the Polish market but for some reason being sold in Northeast Philadelphia.  Do you see the difference? Can you guess which is which?


Yup, the European one is much smaller.   Figures.  But why?  Everyone knows French women don’t get fat. Why can’t we have the same serving sizes in the United States?  Is it a combination of culture plus some sort of economic benefits of economies of scale of producing larger jars of Nutella?   Is it because Europe itself is smaller, lending to smaller houses and smaller portion sizes?

Leave your thoughts in the comments.




20 thoughts on “One of these Nutellas is not like the other

  1. People want more and bigger in America. I’ve never noticed this in nutella. This could be because I don’t eat it that often, and because this is far superior, not least because it is made of actual chocolate.

    Anyway, back to the point, a good example is Coca Cola bottles. From my experience, the American standard size is a 2 liter bottle. In Israel it’s 1.5 liters. When I traveled to Thailand I saw that it was actually only 1 liter. The one time I was in Texas the supermarket I went to actually stocked a standard sized bottle of 3 liters.

    I know that doesn’t quite explain why the markets are like that – are Americans fat because of the large packages, or are the large packages there to serve the needs of fat Americans…?

    1. It’s a catch-22 situation, it seems. What you wrote about the Coke though really was eye-opening. Where can we get smaller portions in the US? Also, do they sell that chocolatey goodness over here?

      1. You can actually get that in New York. On St. Marks place, in the village, there is a Israeli convenience store, and you can all sorts of Israeli products there. Or in Israel.

        Full disclaimer, while I think “shokolad hashachar” is better, that is actually a fairly contentious issue in Israel. See: Soda v. Pop in America.

  2. May be it is just that Nutella isn’t deemed a ‘delicacy’ here.

    May be American consumer is a sucker for bigger SKUs/ worse product compositions (Kraft has been forced to reduce salt in its cheese-products in Europe; the US version label gave me a heart attack just reading). Or may be Europeans are just stupid and do not demand larger pack sizes which give them lower per-gram price.

    This is not a new thing though. European travellers in the 18th century have documented how Americans produce is larger and how the portions are large and how Americans shovel rather than savour food. :-/

    1. If it’s not deemed a delicacy, wouldn’t that mean that it would be bigger, not smaller?

      Any links to the 18th century traveler documents? I didn’t realize the problem went that far back.

      1. There’s always Democracy in America by de Tocqueville.

        Aditya eats “Nutella sandwiches” for a quick dinner or lunch sometimes – just two or three sandwiches of bread & Nutella spread. Until I came along the bread wasn’t even whole wheat, which gives the “meal” at least some nutritional content.

        1. Gori,you are the bastion of health in the family. :) I know how that goes as well. Breakfast used to be two hotdogs and potatoes, because that’s what Real Russian Men Eat. Now it’s buckwheat. Well, I’m dramatizing a little bit, but just for the sake of plot. ;)

      2. My reference to ‘delicacy’ was a tongue-in-cheek comment about the European pride in their cuisine(s) although having eaten a lot of food from a lot of European cultures, I should reserve my judgement on whether that pride may be misplaced in case of many ;-)

        The references are in my doctoral thesis so I shall have to dig it for you (I still do not have a properly bound copy for myself, sadly). The mention does not come from Alexis de Tocqueville but from Peter Stearns (I think he is at Georgetown University) who has written the only definitive book on the history of fatness.

        1. The history of fatness. I like that. And I would love to read your dissertation, if it’s available online somehow.

  3. I know this is off subject but in Canada they use Sugar instead of High Fructose Corn Syrup. Granted everything they sell has french on it too but still its whats on the inside that counts. The US is notorious for producing the most profitable products without any regard to efficiency.

    An example…if Nutella decided that they needed to reduce price they wouldnt reduce the portion size because the consumer would notice. They would cut quality of product. See: Oreo Cookies, Cracker Jacks and many Nabisco products. They change the recipe to be crappier hoping most dont notice.

    1. That’s a sad testament to consumer food quality. Do you feel that food tastes better in Canada? It would be interesting to find out if as many Canadians are overweight.

      1. Are you sure that actually causes more weight gain?

        On a related note – kosher for passover soda in the US (the yellow bottle caps) contains sugar instead of the forbidden corn syrup.

        1. Oreos in Canada are different tasting. Food in general has smaller portions too. You get a large coffee at Tim Hortons (DD style chain) and it is the size of our medium. Its that us Americans have come to expect value with every meal. Value=More food not Quality of Food. It is easy to see value but most people shovel their food and dont taste the value. That is why at nice restaurants the portions are smaller so you eat less but there is quality to what you eat.

          Check my site for personal postings about random stuff!

  4. Everyone, I’ve found something else we can think about:

    A book of food writing from the 1930s in America. The last paragraph reads,

    Mr Kurlansky notes that at the time “America Eats” was published, “America had rivers on both coasts teeming with salmon” and “squirrels still leapt from conifer to hardwood in the uncut forests of Appalachia.” It is, he says, “terrifying to see how much we have lost in only 70 years.” A great deal has changed since this book was compiled. But the account of the popularity of the impersonal, high-speed Automat restaurants of New York (the precursors of later fast-food chains) and a piece ridiculing the “dietists” and “health-food cults” of Los Angeles serve as a reminder that some things have not.

  5. I’m not a Nutella expert or even a target, but am not surprised to see that the American jar is the bigger one. American’s love all things super-sized.

    But there are smaller sized jars coming in the market for (drumroll, please) economic reasons. I faintly recall hearing on NPR/Marketplace that smaller jars are being marketed to Americans because of ‘tough economic situation’, i.e. people wishing to spend less. Makes sense, kind of. Of course, the $/ounce in the smaller jar is likely to be on the less favorable side… but that’s assuming people actually mentally do that math.

  6. Hey Vicki,

    Only just found this post (mea culpa, I guess), but on the state of the Nutella union from the Old World: it comes in all kind of sizes / quantities. 400 grammes and 750 grammes are standard, often with a little extra for free. Then there are the snack packs with some Nutella and a small handful of grissini, you get one-serving-each individually sealed packages for hotels. There was a 1,95583 grammes jar to mark the change from Deutsch Marks to Euros (at 1.95583 Deutsch Marks to the Euro), and a 2,000 grammes one for the year 2000. I had 250 grammes jars that, when empty, could be used as latte macchiato glasses, and when I was small, the jars came with a toy. I was told US Nutella is sweeter than German Nutella, which allegedly is more to the cocoa side than the Swiss version (one of my brothers lives in Switzerland, and he prefers the German version). BTW, a late friend of mine, DSc in chemistry, said people shouldn’t underestimate the nutritional benefits of Nutella.

    1. Hey Froylein,
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. This information about European Nutella is most helpful, in that I now crave Nutella snack packs and Nutella with grissini at hotels. Why, cruel world, does this not happen here?

      Also, what would the nutritional benefits be? I would like to take advantage of them as much as possible.

      1. Just looked up a list of contents to be sure – my memory served me right: Nutella is made of awesome – protein (for muscles), carbs (stamina; I blame the economic crisis in part on the no-carb diet fad), low-fat cocoa (–> endorphins), vitamins B & B12 (muscles, tissue, hair, nails; the latter is essential to proper brain development), vitamin E (reduces the risk of cancer and cannot be produced by human bodies by themselves), calcium (bones, teeth, hair, nails), iron (oxygen saturation of the blood, hair), and magnesium (muscle functions). Sounds pretty good to me. :)

        BTW, the snack packs used to have an extra compartment with peach flavour ice tea + straw.

  7. Nutella is one of the few things I would buy American size. And eat at the same speed as an European one.
    I still don’t understand why everything is packaged in twice the size containers in US. Maybe because when they run out of something, Europeans put their shoes on and walk to the local store? And Americans are afraid they might have to do the same in case their car brakes down, so they are prepared by stoking up?

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