Nutella Wars

In a few weeks, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California will hear arguments in a consumer lawsuit against Ferrero, the maker of popular hazelnut-chocolate spread Nutella. So what’s the dispute? Slate‘s Nadia Arumugam lays it out:

Athena Hohenberg used to serve her kid Nutella first thing in the morning. She says Ferrero’s labeling and television marketing convinced her that the chocolate-and-hazelnut spread could form part of a wholesome, balanced breakfast for her 4-year-old daughter. Then a friend told Hohenberg that, nutritionally, Nutella resembles a candy bar, and Hohenberg—shocked and angry—filed a lawsuit against Ferrero in California.

To be clear: Ms. Hohenberg isn’t claiming that Nutella’s Nutrition Facts (on the back of every jar of the spread) is inaccurate; nor is she questioning the veracity of Nutella’s ingredient list (in which sugar is listed first and palm oil second.)

Instead, Ms. Hohenberg’s primary complaint is that Ferrero misleads mothers by marketing Nutella as “part of a balanced breakfast.” In Nutella commercials, sun-kissed children wolf down Nutella-on-wheat-toast with their orange juice while their healthy, upper-middle-class mother sings Nutella’s praises. Do the commercials mention that one tablespoon of Nutella is 100 calories and 5 grams of fat? No. But do they lie to consumers? Absolutely not—as Slate‘s Arumugam proves in unnecessarily exhaustive detail.

Personally, I’m anxious to see how Athena Hohenberg’s lawsuit turns out. If Ferrero ends up shelling out cash to Hohenberg—very doubtful, but stranger things have happened—I look forward to filing a similar lawsuit against General Mills. After all, I was shocked and angry to discover that there wasn’t really “magic in every bite” of mini-charm Lucky Charms . . .