Let the record show that I tried again, Nutella. Before I sat down to write this piece, I asked my housemate if I could have a little of his, just to make sure my hatred was still intact, and... yeah. It is. (I don't know what I would have done if it turned out that I liked it, but luckily, that was not the case.) At first, I thought maybe I did like it—after all, it's chocolate, and I have been known to unapologetically consume a can of frosting in one sitting, so it seems like I should enjoy Nutella, but then the hazelnut taste comes in, and my mouth clots with the thickness and the too sweetness, and it's ghastly. Why are these flavors together? Why won't the taste go away? Why and how has a cult developed around this substance?
In some circles, telling people you do not like Nutella is on par with saying you aren't into sunshine or flowers or being alive. So consuming is the lust for Nutella that in 2013, Columbia University students were stealing it from the dining halls in a controversy known as "Nutella-gate."
I wonder if, on some level, the Nutella obsession has something to do with it being European, and therefore exotic, making us Americans feel daring and continental when we spread it on various things. People have tried to justify their affection for it by describing how delicious it is when you put it in a crepe with fruit, which implies that the vile taste can be somehow be neutered by something. I don't want my food neutered, I want it to not be gross in the first place. We do not all have to be on the same page, especially about something that has taken the delicious taste of chocolate and bludgeoned it to death with the noxiousness of hazelnuts. It's fine if you like it, but you're wrong, because it's disgusting.
When I asked on Facebook for fellow Nutella haters to come forward, they did, bravely, although there were many Nutella fans who openly challenged my humanity, threatened to unfriend me, and offered to eat Nutella on my behalf. (Uh, go for it.) People confessed that they felt like they should like it, because they didn't hate hazelnuts or chocolate, but something about the texture of Nutella and its disturbing aftertaste rendered it inedible to them. Some said it was overrated, and tasted "fake." Another friend told me that she learned recently that a babka she likes is made with Nutella, and she's having trouble "squaring that with my identity." What is it about this stuff that has the ability to make us question who we are?
More than one friend admitted that, like me, they'd tried it over and over again, just to be sure that they still hated it. It's peer pressure that's making us do this, we want to fit in with the Nutella eaters so they don't malign us. Liking Nutella, in social situations, seems to be easier than not liking it, so apparently, we continue to sample its plasticky, clenched-teeth inducing flavor in order to confirm our dislike, rather than simply allowing ourselves to exist in our Nutella-less universe, growing silent and withdrawn when the jar is brought out and everyone else explodes into unmitigated joy. On some level, we always knew we didn't need Nutella to be happy, but let us now know that there are others in solidarity, who also loathe the taste of faux chocolate combined with hazelnuts and Sweet and Low.