What the ‘great Nutella riots’ of 2018 tell us about the French

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What do the viral images of shoppers in France battling to get their hands on pots of Nutella tell us? Not only that the French are nuts for the spread but also that they can still surprise us…and even themselves.

And even though in reality it was more like a feeding frenzy than a riot, France's passion is in no doubt.

In fact, according to some figures 26 percent of the world consumption of Nutella is done by the French even though the brand is Italian.

This means that around a whopping 75,000 tonnes of Nutella are consumed every year in France.

France's long love affair with the chocolate spread starts, for many, at childhood when it is the sweet and some say sickly breakfast of choice for many French school children.

And according to Paris food writer and author of the blog Chocolate & Zucchini Clotilde Dusoulier it could be this childhood link which is partly behind the France's love for Nutella.

"French people eat it by the spoonful. I had it on toast for breakfast as a child," Dusoulier told The Local. "And like with candy, grownups continue to eat it to connect with their inner child."

The food writer also explained that the French have a tendency to turn to sweets in times of uncertainty.

"Things are a bit better in France now but there's still a huge enthusiasm for pastry chefs" and "giving away this sweet childhood memory nearly for free is likely to bring up memories of sharing it with school friends, treats and other positive links," she said.

Whatever the reason, the scenes at Intermarche supermarkets in France on Thursday were reminiscent of Black Friday bonanzas in the US with customers jostling, scuffling and battling each other to get their hands on the chocolate.

"They are like animals. A woman had her hair pulled, an elderly lady took a box on her head, another had a bloody hand. It was horrible," one customer at the Rive-de-Gier supermarket in central France told Le Progres newspaper.

And many people took to Twitter to show surprise about where this frenzy was happening.

Indeed one Twitter user dubbed it "Brown Friday" (see below).

Aww, the french and their love story with fine #food . Shame Nutella isn’t french nor fine.

— Caroline (@Chrysalide4ever) January 26, 2018

Still, although it may seem bizarre to many, it's nice to know the French can still surprise us from time to time.

Let's leave the final word with French President Emmanuel Macron:

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Photo: AFP

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