As far as affordable luxury chocolate goes, Ferrero Rocher is pretty high up on the list. Comprised of a hazelnut center surrounded by an Italian chocolate spread, a wafer layer, and a milk chocolate shell covered in finely chopped hazelnuts, these confections are pretty difficult to dislike. Unless, of course, you’ve got a nut allergy. In either case, you might still enjoy the Top 10 Untold Truths Of Ferrero Rocher.
10. Hazelnuts Instead Of Cocoa
In Italy, during and after World War II, cocoa was something of a luxury. Pietro Ferrero decided to experiment with cheaper alternatives to use in his chocolate and stumbled upon an ingredient that was plentiful in the country at the time: hazelnuts. He ended up combining hazelnut oil, molasses, coconut butter, and a little bit of cocoa, which he sold wrapped in wax paper. The recipe was called Giandujot (derived from gianduiotto, another popular sweet similar to his creation). His confection sold like hotcakes, so he teamed up with his brother Giovanni and, together, they founded Ferrero. After Pietro’s death, Ferrero launched a spreadable variety of Giandujot, which would later become the Nutella we all know and love. Once cocoa became more widely available in Italy again after some years, Ferrero incorporated it more and more in their spread. The actual Ferrero Rocher chocolates were actually only rolled out in 1982, invented by Michele Ferrero, Pietro Ferrero’s son, but its inspiration is clear. Even though cocoa is now used in their chocolates, hazelnuts have remained a staple. There’s still one at the center of every Ferrero Rocher praline, and several of them chopped around its coating. A delight guaranteed if you like delicious things!
9. Ferrero And Their Other Well-known Sweets
Something that might not be known by everyone is that Ferrero also produces several other fan-favorites including Nutella, Tic Tac, Mon Chéri, and Kinder. Nutella, originally a spreadable version of the Ferrero Rocher chocolates, was called Supercrema and was sold in reusable jars and pots so customers could refill their containers. The company had sales representatives sell directly to customers instead of distributing their product through wholesalers, which further ensured that consumer prices stayed low. In the early 1960s, chocolate became more widely available in Italy again, so the company decided to upgrade Supercrema by adding more cocoa and cocoa butter to the spread. Ferrero later chose to rebrand after, the name Supercrema was put in jeopardy due to the Italian government regulating the use of superlatives in advertising. They then settled on Nutella to evoke the flavor of hazelnuts in many different languages. It was in 1964 they began shipping out jars with the rebranded name. Mon Chéri was introduced a little earlier, in 1956, as Ferrero entered the German market. A former German missile factory was transformed into a chocolate factory where the cherry-liquor-filled chocolate was produced and sold. Pietro Ferrero’s son, who had taken over the shop after his passing, went as far as to file for a patent for Mon Chéri in Arabic to expose knockoffs. The Kinder line was then launched in 1968, with Tic Tac following soon after in 1969, and finally, the Ferrero Rocher pralines in 1982. Talk about expanding your business in the chocolate world!
8. Ferrero Rocher: The Largest Consumer Of Hazelnuts
Even though we know hazelnuts are such a staple in Ferrero Rocher products, you might still be surprised to find out that they are actually the biggest consumer of hazelnuts in the world. Out of the world’s total supply of hazelnuts, roughly a quarter of them are used by Ferrero. That’s a lot of hazelnuts. With two of their most popular products being Nutella and Ferrero Rocher pralines, it’s easy to understand why the company would need so many. It’s also interesting to note that Ferrero really does care about the quality of their nuts. They use only premium hazelnuts from the Langhe area of Piedmont, in northern Italy, nothing less. When Pietro Ferrero was first experimenting with the hazelnuts in his confection, he would wake up from his sleep to create something new, subsequently waking up his wife to have her taste his new recipe in the middle of the night. At this time, Piedmont was already known for its chocolate industry. Gianduja, a creamy combination of chocolate and hazelnuts and an inspiration for Pietro Ferrero’s first confection (Giandujot), was actually created in this town. Gianduja was quite pricy at the time but lucky for Pietro, his Giandujot (what has been described as a solid version of Nutella that had to be cut with a knife) was more affordable and thereby more accessible. People loved it, and they still do to this day. Ferrero prides itself on this same practice today: offering premium chocolate at a relatively economical price.
7. The Shape Took A While To Perfect
If you’ve seen the show Gourmet Makes’ attempt at replicating Ferrero Rocher, you know how difficult it is to recreate by hand. As simple as the round, spherical shape appears, it took Pietro Ferrero five years of experiments to get the shape up to his standards (likely due to the spherical wafer). The name actually compliments the shape pretty well too. “Rocher” in Ferrero Rocher is actually French for rock or boulder and is intended to stand for the hazelnut at the center of the confectionery. Specifically, it is said that the chocolate is named after a grotto in the Roman Catholic shrine of Lourdes, Rocher de Massabielle. Today, of course, Ferrero Rocher pralines are manufactured by machinery in a factory. The company is quite secretive about their production though, refusing the entry of smartphones or notebooks inside their facilities, as well as keeping the admittance of journalists to a minimum. Even their recipes are top-secret. Michele Ferrero, Pietro’s son, is the family member credited with discovering the formula that allowed one to put liquor in chocolate without it absorbing the liquid. Nervous about patenting it in Europe due to potential theft, Michele had the recipe translated into Arabic and hid in a vault in Cairo (possibly waiting for future archaeologists to dig up?).
6. It’s A Family Business
Even today, Ferrero is still a family-owned business! The story starts in Italy with Pietro Ferrero who began selling his recipe, Giandujot, and later teamed up with his brother Giovanni who had a background in wholesaling food. Unfortunately, Pietro didn’t really get to see his business take off. He passed away from a heart attack at age 51, only three years after they founded their company. It was his son, Michele, who was responsible for the massive growth of the brand after Giovanni died in 1957, also from a heart attack. Before his father’s death, Michele persuaded him and his uncle to enter the German market, where they created Mon Chérie. He also then expanded to Belgium, Austria, France, Switzerland, Ireland, Ecuador, Australia, and Hong Kong. By the time he passed down the company to his sons in 1997, Ferrero had generated over $4.8 billion in annual sales. He practically became the real-life Willy Wonka and the most wealthy chocolatier in the world. His sons, also named Giovanni and Pietro, have continued to run the company. Michele stayed on as chairman, while his sons replaced him as CEO. Sadly, Pietro also died of a heart attack in 2011, leaving Giovanni to run the everyday business matters on his own. Then, in 2015, Michele passed away at age 89. Giovanni was left the majority of the business, and the rest was divided among other family members. At 55, Giovanni is now focused on increasingly growing the company. In fact, he now also owns Butterfinger and BabyRuth. Talk about sweet!
5. 4.6 Billion Pieces Are Manufactured Every Year
In 2013, the brand claimed they manufactured 4.6 billion pieces of Ferrero Rocher every year. They are sold in over forty countries on every continent and in 2017, Ferrero sold $12.5 billion worth of sweets. This valued the namesake owners of the company at an estimated $31 billion. Giovanni Ferrero, the current CEO, has a net worth of $25.9 billion, making him the 45th richest person in the world according to Forbes. Whereas his grandfather and father ran the business carefully and diligently, with little debt and no acquisitions, Giovanni takes on more of a risk-taking approach. He is actively pursuing higher revenue by purchasing other brands such as the British chocolatier Thorntons and Nestlé U.S. He believes that focusing only on Ferrero’s native brands will mean falling behind against larger competitors such as Mars—the maker of M&M’s and Snickers—and Mondelez—who owns Oreo and Toblerone. Risk it for the biscuit, as the saying goes—in this case, for the chocolate. Forbes estimates that the company nets roughly 10% of sales, meaning they have the extra cash to spend. (If extra cash, to you, is a few billion, of course). If one thing is true about the chocolate business, it’s that branding is important. Ferrero has managed to make Nutella an iconic sweet. Maybe it’s the product’s diverse uses: a hearty spread on toast, a chocolaty dip for fruits, an ingredient in special cakes or cookies, or just eating it out of the jar with a spoon. (Hey, we never judge!)
4. Rocher Chocolates Aren’t Healthy… Duh!
It’s no secret that chocolate isn’t really good for you. I mean, it tastes good, there’s no argument there, but it’s not good for you. It does have benefits though, like lowering blood pressure, but it’s still loaded with sugar, fat, and, by extension, tons of calories. Ferrero Rocher’s nutritional information is a little intense, however. Of course, you’re getting a substantial amount of energy from these little balls of delightfulness, but if you eat one serving (which is about three of them), you’re looking at 220 calories. That’s close to what you would consume eating a full-sized dessert. On top of that, one serving also contains a lot of dietary fat, saturated fat, carbs, and 3 milligrams of cholesterol. For reference, the American Heart Association says that women shouldn’t eat more than 100 calories of added sugar a day, while men shouldn’t have more than 150. Saturated fat is linked to high cholesterol and heart disease, so the average adult shouldn’t consume more than 16 to 22 grams a day, which is what contains one serving… One-seventh of the daily recommended quantity of carbs is a single serving of Rocher chocolates. Devouring only three of these will have you consuming a good chunk of your daily nutrient recommendations. Although these pralines actually contain an ingredient called Lecithin—which is known to treat anxiety, depression, and high-cholesterol—it probably isn’t the best idea to depend on them to lower cholesterol. But, despite all of this, it’s still interesting to note that eating this chocolate probably will make you feel happy and that’s not only due to the pleasure of eating it!
3. The Chocolates Can Be Used In A Bunch Of Recipes
Let’s get cooking! There’s Ferrero Rocher cake (a classic), Rocher spicy biscuit parfait, Rocher hazelnut marquise, Rocher coffee semifreddo (which is a sort of frozen mousse), chocolate pistachio cake, chocolate hazelnut cake, and hazelnut cupcakes. Actual heaven for chocolate lovers! All of these recipes can be found on their website and are ready for you to test them. Plus, the chocolates themselves are especially great for decorating your creations, so you don’t need any fancy skills to make your creations look appetizing. And if you’re not crazy into baking, Ferrero also has a pretty extensive list of decorating suggestions that incorporate their pralines. They even have suggestions on ways to reuse the clear box they come in. For example, storing pencils or pens. They propose using a 24-pack of Ferrero Rocher to neatly (and nicely) store colored pencils. You could also use the box as a coffee capsule container, or a tiny Zen garden by filling it with very fine sand, smooth stones or pebbles, and small candles. A 16-pack container could be used to store tea bags, or makeup, or even small tools. Building a lightbox with the lids of their cases is also pretty easy. Simply connect four cardboard sidings, making sure that they can fit overtop a small lamp. Balance or attach the Ferrero Rocher lid on top of the sidings and watch as the room fills with prism patterned light. Yay for environmentally-friendly DIY projects!
2. More Than Just One Flavor
Although the original Rocher will always be a fan-favorite, Ferrero does offer other flavors of their widely-adored chocolates. They offer dark chocolate if you’re looking for a stronger aroma or a healthier option. Rondnoir—the dark chocolate version—is described as providing “an intense taste of dark chocolate, with a crisp wafer surrounding a creamy, chocolaty filling with a dark chocolate pearl at the center”. Also available is a lighter variation called Raffaello, these confections are a blend of white Californian almonds and coconut from the Pacific Islands. Ferrero’s Golden Gallery box of assorted chocolates also has some interesting options including cappuccino, caramel, white chocolate, and, of course, hazelnut. It has since been discontinued, but Ferrero Garden was another variety box the company offered. Specifically, this box contained different nut flavors of Ferrero Rocher. There was almond, coconut, pistachio, hazelnut, and walnut, with some places in the world offering mixed fruit flavors. Talk about thinking outside of the box!
1. Pretty Iconic Packaging
Ferrero also prides itself on its extravagant packaging. Each chocolate is individually wrapped in a little ball of gold foil, packed in a fluted paper cup with gold detailing, and topped with a tiny label (also with gold detailing). Nothing screams luxury like gold… everything! Ferrero’s commitment to its aesthetically pleasing appearance is clear; nearly forty percent of Ferrero Rocher’s packaging weight is made up of the gold foil and paper packaging. Their clear plastic containers are also pretty recognizable, despite being so simple. It’s always satisfying to pull off the golden ribbon tape from around the case. These chocolates come in many different sizes: from a 3-piece box to a 48-piece, but it doesn’t stop there. Ferrero also launched what they called the Grand Ferrero Rocher, described as “a delicious, hollow milk chocolate and hazelnut shell” with either two or four Ferrero Rochers inside. These chocolates are pretty popular around the holidays, especially because the giant golden ball is topped off with a giant golden bow. It screams perfect gift. Around this time, you can also find Ferrero Rocher in cone-shaped packaging mimicking a Christmas tree, as well as tree and star-shaped boxes. They also have a Christmas ornament box shaped like a star and complete with a gold ribbon for hanging on the tree. One thing is for sure, Ferrero doesn’t shy away from mixing things up every so often. Maybe life is like a box of chocolates after all.