If you ever visit gourmet grocers or Italian markets, you've probably seen it: Imported Nutella, straight from Italy, sold in a glass jar at multiple times the price of the Canadian-made stuff found in most US supermarkets. And perhaps you've wondered: Is it really any different? Many devotees insist that it is—a blind taste test at Serious Eats, for example, found that the discrepancy was immediately obvious, with the North American variety tasting "like sugar," and the Italian one tasting "like hazelnuts." Jim Webster at the Washington Post wanted to get to the bottom of the matter, so he sat down with two jars and Italian pastry guru Alex Levin.
The story details their epic quest to break down all the tangible and intangibles of both Nutellas. Turns out the ingredients are identical—equal amounts of sugar, hazelnuts, protein, total fat, and more. Both are more than half sugar and thus sweet. The only difference they could suss out was that the North American version, using "palm oil," boasts that it has no trans fat, while the Italian version, made with "vegetable oil," doesn't mention trans fats. The imported has a firmer texture and "sticks to your mouth a little more," perhaps providing at least the sense of a more intense flavor by lingering on the palate longer. "We can't, and don't claim to have solved anything," Webster writes, but they theorize that the FDA's trans fat rules necessitated a change in recipe. After all that, Webster says he's still a Nutella fan and will keep a jar ("probably domestic") in the pantry. But Levin whipped up a homemade batch in minutes, and that's going into the rotation. (Read more Nutella stories.)