Sometimes I think we live in the most insane country in the world. But when I read about the Nutella riots in France, I felt as if we're just the right amount of (hazel)nuts.
According to many sources, full-on hair-pulling, fist-pumping, leg-tripping, nose-bleeding riots broke out in supermarkets around the country after Intermarche offered a 70 percent discount. Biting, screaming, clawing, grasping -- the Nutella riots made our 3 a.m. hordes outside Walmart on Thanksgiving look tame.
The French frenzy, captured on hundreds of cellphone videos, could easily provide comedic fodder for a week on late-night shows. Alas, Nutellapocalypse (or should we call it Armagedotella?) came to a relatively quick end, as the supermarket chain wised up and offered a meager single jar to each customer eagerly awaiting the heavily discounted deliciousness.
Personally, I feel that if the supermarket chain was going to crush the dreams of customers who envisioned decorating their pantry walls with ceiling-high stacks of creamy cocoa and hazelnut spread, it could have at least given each person a spoon to go along with the single serving. This way, the customers could have eaten their feelings straight from the jar on the walk home. I bet the salty tears would actually complement the rather rich dessert-meets-breakfast spread.
At the time of my writing this, I haven't heard of anyone's being significantly injured in any way because of the chaos that spread (get it? Because Nutella is a spread) across France. That is fantastic for many reasons, including that I can enjoy the hilarity of the Nutella riots without guilt or reservation.
I loved reading about the Nutella riots -- perhaps mostly because my time in France was marked by interactions with perfectly lovely people who were demure in their affectations. I never met a person too excitable, too extreme in any way. My travels through the country and my experience with the French in other countries left me with an untainted impression of their indelible coolness -- a coolness that went along perfectly with my very American impression of the country that birthed the City of Lights. The delicious cuisine, the flaky croissants, the gorgeous architecture, the endless stories of simple folks hiding Jews during the Nazi occupation, the art, the vineyards, the strong, defiant culture -- to me, France could always be summed up with one word: class.
But everything has a breaking point. Even the coolest and classiest will break and nerd out to something. And it's beyond delightful to know that the breaking point to our cool-kid Regina George-esque ally is Nutella. Not that I can blame France. Nutella is undeniably delicious.
Hazelnut crushed down into a thick, smooth spread, whisked together with milk and cocoa powder, Nutella has become the rich and creamy dessert that it is somehow acceptable to eat in Europe any time of day. Many a college evening was spent with my sticking everything and anything into a tub of Nutella: pretzel rods, apple slices, cookies, tortillas, potato chips, my fingers. There was also that time I directly poured vanilla vodka into the tub, mixed it with a spoon and dived in. I have zero shame. The delicious brown goop found under my fingernails was a source of pride.
To be clear, a sense of pride for me. I'm sure the French would grimace at this blasphemous defiling of their favorite spreadable treat. Which brings me to my other reason that I love this story so much. For as delicious as Nutella is to me, an American, it will always be just that: a treat. Not a staple of my diet. Not something as common and accepted as, let's say, peanut butter. Peanut butter is Americans' spreadable deliciousness that we somehow convinced ourselves is acceptable to eat any time of day. Our peanut butter is their Nutella.
When I traveled around Europe, I was living off a little less than $20 a day. Many days, I bought nothing more than a single baguette. I was desperate to buy a jar of peanut butter to make this daily baguette more palatable. But peanut butter was nowhere to be found. I must've gone into over 100 food stores. Nada. Only Nutella. Believe me, if I had found out there was a sale of peanut butter, I would have gladly punched and kicked and clawed to get a jar. I would have been all over peanut-buttageddon.
So I get you, France. I get you.
Katiedid Langrock is author of the book "Stop Farting in the Pyramids," available at http://www.creators.com/books/stop-farting-in-the-pyramids. Like Katiedid Langrock on Facebook, at http://www.facebook.com/katiedidhumor. To find out more about her and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.