The Brown Stuff

I know a man who once swam in a vat of Nutella.

His name is John and he’s the partner of Mum’s lovely friend Trish. I met him the night before Wedding III, when The Mothership arranged a dinner with her Schoolteacher Posse. John was one of those easygoing guys you like immediately. Gareth was especially smitten because he was into motorbikes, but when he casually mentioned the Nutella Thing no other details mattered to me but the Nutella Thing.

John is an engineer for the company that makes Nutella, and one fine day the Nutella machine broke down. He had to be lowered into the big barrel o’ choc-hazelnut goodness to investigate the problem. He alleged it wasn’t very glamorous – the Nutella was warm and sticky and they had to haul him out afterwards and hose him down, and of course the batch of Nutella was ruined. But all I heard was, PADDLING IN A NUTELLA POOL.

If this happened to me, well, screw the repair work. I would dive deep, open my mouth wide and just wait like a basking shark. You know how they hover there, jaws agape, letting the hapless fish flow right down inside to their eager bellies.

I first met Nutella in the mid-80s when my Best Friend Katie brought some in for recess. It was one of those wee snack packs with the foil lid, complete with plastic digging implement. She was a rare creature whose Mum packed her delicious sweet things for lunch but rarely wanted to eat them. I, on the other hand, was hungry like the wolf but made my own lunch, and it was always some wholegrain homemade vitamin-rich crap as dictated by The Mothership. Thus much of our Best Friend conversations went like this:

“Are you not going to eat that [Spacefood Stick, KitKat, Wagon Wheel]?”

“Nah, I don’t want it. Do you want it?”

“Well, only if you’re sure you don’t want it.”

“Oh, I’m sure.”


I remember peeling back that foil and being punched in the nose by chocolate perfume. The Nutella gazed up at me, smooth and calm in its little box. It seemed a shame to disturb it. But ten minutes later I was licking away the last skerrick, wedging my tongue into the little grooves in the bottom of the tray.

I didn’t encounter Nutella again for a decade. 1996 is remembered both as the year I left home and the year Ferrero brought out The Simpsons collectable Nutella glasses. I was swanning down the aisles, flushed with the freedom of grocery shopping without lamb chops, when the Homer glass sang to me from the shelf. I fully intended to stop at Homer – after all, how many glasses does a student need? But by year’s end he’d been joined by Bart, Krusty and Maggie; then finally Lisa because I didn’t want her thinking I thought she was unworthy. And despite my intention to just have a wee spoonful of Nutella then scoop the rest into the bin, I’m not sure that happened very often. I’m fuzzy on the details; I fell into a sugar coma at some point.

I was clean for eight long years, before falling off last year while in Germany. We arrived in Berlin and found the youth hostel’s bread rolls were accompanied by little foil packets of Nutella. I was powerless to resist.

Not long after I was staying over at Chez Gareth. We were cooking dinner when I spied a familiar jar up the back of the pantry.

“Is that Nutella?”

“Yep. Do you want some?”

“Oh no. I have a problem with Nutella.”

“How can anyone have a problem with Nutella?”

“Oh trust me,” I muttered darkly, “It can happen.”

A few weeks later I was at Chez Gareth again and we were chatting on the couch.

“Sooo, I went to make a Nutella piece today,” he began. Piece, incidentally, is a Scots word for sandwich.

“Yeah?” I searched for an innocent tone.

“Yeah. I took the Nutella jar from the shelf, and it looked like a normal jar of Nutella, three quarters full. But then I opened the lid!”


“Much to my surprise the jar was near empty, except for a very thin layer of Nutella right around the edges and bottom. Like someone had very carefully excavated it, spoon by spoon, taking great pains to make it appear full from the outside, when in fact the lot had been scranned!”

“That’s just ridiculous!”

“I know, can you believe it?”

“Maybe you have mice! Some very precise mice!”

“That’s one theory!”

“Yeah! Well!” I bristled, “You shouldn’t eat it anyway! It contains partially hydrogenated peanut oil, don’t you know; and that’s very bad for you. Very very bad!”

I assuaged my guilt by buying him a jar of Green and Blacks Organic Hazelnut Chocolate Spread, which is just as calorific but smugly unhydrogenated.

A whole month went by and he hadn’t even opened it.

“Jesus!” I screamed out of the blue as we watched a movie. “How come you haven’t opened that Nutella yet!?”

“Oh, I totally forgot it was there.”

“How could you forget Nutella?”

“Well I dunno… I just did.”

“But haven’t you been thinking about it? Hasn’t it been taunting you?”

“Has it been taunting you?

“I’m just amazed that it’s unopened. Don’t you just crave it?”

“Well I tend to crave chips or cheese. I’m more a savoury tooth than a sweet tooth; that’s your thing.”

“Oh I have a sweet tooth and a savoury tooth. I have many teeth.”

In the end I cracked, opening the jar myself and landing spoon first. I managed to stop after one or two bites, then put the rest inside a double-batch of banana muffins as a delicious chocolately surprise, distributing the lot to friends and colleagues.

There was no mention of Nutella for a long while then one afternoon I dropped by Chez Gareth. I went into the kitchen to make the tea as per standard procedure.

“Oh, I don’t want any tea,” said Gareth.

“You don’t?”

“What I really fancy,” he smiled, “Is a Nutella piece.”

“You want me to make you a sandwich?”



He just grinned some more.

I opened the cupboard and reached for the jar. And this is what I found.


“OH! Very funny.”

“Hee hee!” Gareth punched the air triumphantly.

“Your kangaroo is rubbish, by the way.”

“It’s my first one! Cut me some slack.”

About Shauna Reid

Ahoy there! I’m Shauna, an author, copywriter and content mentor. I love telling stories about life and helping others to tell theirs.

Find out more about me and how we can work together – I’m now booking for January 2022.

51 thoughts on “The Brown Stuff

  1. LOL, LOVE your writing. Do you say “oot” or does he? Taylore at That Thin Bitch and her American friends go all silent when I say out or about in conversation…I swear I say owwwwt, but no, I supposedly say oot, lol.

    I’ve never been one for nutella, toast with chocolate sprinkles though πŸ™‚

  2. There’s nothing better then that moment when you peel back the gold wrapper on a big jar of nutella, and there it is, the unspoiled smooth top of the glorious brown stuff.

    There’s nothing worse than when people don’t scoop it out properly and a month later there are crunchy brown yucky bits stuck to the edges of the glass.

    C’mon people. Lick the knife!!

  3. Well, you can tell it is a kangaroo. Just about.

    I don’t even want to know whether we have any Nutella in our house. Ahem. It is better that way. The same can be said of Isabella’s Fudge Sauce.

    (How can Gareth eat it cold? On hot toast, that’s the best way. Toooast… mmmm…)

  4. Have you tried dipping nuts in Nutella (cheese and bickies style)? *head drops back and tongue lolls out of mouth a la Homer-Simpson ……* πŸ˜€

  5. You had me literally LOL-ing.
    I know this for I have annoyed a colleague.

    I haven’t got a sweet tooth, unluckily I do have a MOUTHFULL of the savoury ones.

    Two rows.


    Pol x

    must find cheese and anchovies now.

  6. If you ever want to overcome your Nutella addiction, 1. don’t go to Paris, 2. don’t go to a stand that serves fresh crepes, 3. when at said stand, don’t order a banana and Nutella crepe. *whimper*

  7. Bwahahahahahahaha!!!

    Honestly, that’s SO me. I haven’t eaten Nutella in months. Maybe years. I can’t even recall the last time and I LOVE the stuff. I just try not to get near it because if I do I’ll end up getting addicted and blowing up to twice my original size.

  8. Funny you should mention this. I just tried Nutella for the first time tonight. This may be the beginning of the end for me.

  9. Honestly, that’s SO me. I haven’t eaten Nutella in months. Maybe years. I can’t even recall the last time and I LOVE the stuff

    Tech News Blog and Cheap laptop computers guides & review

  10. right people. please stop using my blog to pimp your sites. if you knew what tiny amount of traffic i actually get, you probably wouldn’t bother.

    you get to pimp your site ONCE, and the place for that is the URL field. NOT in the comment field, which is reserved for a comment on the entry. thank you.

    any misplaced hyperlinks will be removed.

    (cheers for the 99.9% non-pimpy comments!)

  11. Keep Oot Site Pimpers.
    (Is it just me, or does G’s kangaroo look just slightly pornographic?)

    I am more a savoury than a sweet tooth, but anything by Green & Black rings my bell. I’m hititng the organic shop in my lunchbreak! (Oh, and I love the use of the word ‘piece’ for sandwich. I might adopt it. It makes me feel like a gangster.)

  12. yes beth! i thought the roo looked a bit porn too. but i don’t blame it coz i would find being on top of a jar of nutella pretty arousing too!

  13. Nah! That’s a wobbly Nutella gut on that roo!

    It’s a hint! And I wouldn’t take it, o Red-Headed One!

  14. funny, my ex came by last night and bought us a jar of nutella and some bread… its in my cupboard now, taunting me. i have.. to stay.. away!

    first time ive eaten nutella in about a year.. my sweet tooth is too powerful to be able to handle something like that, same as milo (which i eat straight from the tin with a spoon)

  15. I must be the only person in Australia – probably in the WORLD – that doesn’t like Nutella or Fererro Rocher’s. Some poor fool of a boy once gave me Ferrero’s as a gift; I threw them in the bin when he wasn’t looking. I just don’t get it. Which is probably a good thing, because I definitely get cheese and crackers, Toblerone, red wine and many other sinful delights.

  16. Hmmm, there must a category for temptations that we cannot eat, much less buy for our home pantries. I’d add brie, sweet condensed milk, and thai peanut sauce to the list.

    There’s a pool of drool forming on my desk as I think of these delights….

    Thanks for sharing the nutella addiction!

  17. When I was a wee slip of a girl in norn iron people used to give you sugar pieces to eat. They were every bit as disgusting as they sound.

  18. Nutella – man, that stuff is the shit! My favourite is scotch finger biscuits dunked in nutella. A friend used to also make a dip out of nutella and yoghurt and use it to dunk fruit. But I can’t stand it on bread – gross.

    I think we used to have the Simpsons glasses but definitely had the nutella Wonder Woman glass. That was my prize possession.

  19. mmmmmm nutella….

    Forget the bread, the only way is straight from the jar with a spoon

    mmmmmm I think there might be a jar hidden in the pantry…


  20. Better than Vegemite, no? πŸ˜‰

    I had the exact same thing with the too-healthy, deadly-dull mom lunches back in school. Everyone else would have Fruit Roll-Ups or those shake-your-own-pudding dealies to go with their delicious whitebread sandwiches and I’d have organic peanut-butter on too-thick slices of whole wheat plus a green apple, all in a brown paper bag.

    Mind you #1: now the things I choose to eat are closer to my mom’s lunches than they are to what the other kids had. Mind you #2: at least I wasn’t Dana Cayer, whose working single mom would give her processed-cheese-slice sandwiches that would sometimes still have the plastic envelope left on the cheese because her mother hadn’t bothered to peel it off.

  21. I’ve just read this out to my husband and he spent the whole time interrupting saying “That’s me!”… “Oh, that’s me TOO!”. And, secret shame, I didn’t realise that the kangaroo had boxing gloves on. I thought he was trying to stick his hands up as though to say “Stop! Don’t come near this jar!”

  22. That just about made me cry. I’ve been a rabid Nutella fan since I first tasted it – I forget the exact details, but I was a child in Denmark and delirious with joy at having found My Love.

    These days I’m allergic to hazelnuts and haven’t had any of the brown elixir of the gods (can something non-fluid be an elixir?) for a long time, but every now and again, I stare at it in the grocery store and try not to a) weep; and b) test just how allergic I am.


  23. sugar pieces!? croikey… sounds even worse than scottish tablet…

    cheers melissa πŸ™‚

    leisel – don’t worry, i asked the artist and he says it’s not boxing gloves, it’s meant to be the roo giving the thumbs up. being scottish he obviously didn’t realise kangroos don’t have thumbs!

    lene – bloody hell, i really do feel for you. i try and stay away from it purely for vanity reasons but to be allergic, that just ain’t fair…

  24. Oooo, I am so glad that is a thumbs up – that’s what I thought it was at first and then everyone said boxing gloves and then I felt like a fool… but now I know it must be a Scottish thing to make a kangaroo give the thumbs up. No thumbs? Not even in Tankgirl?? I would like to congratulate Dr. G. on the ears, though, they seem very fine. I take it kangaroos have ears…?

  25. Better than Vegemite – NO! Although I like the description of Vegemite by Americans as “what’s been scraped off an engine block”. Feeling hungry now!

    Yes, another classic WNP moment!

    Scott πŸ™‚

  26. When I was overseas working alongside some Aussie adgies I tried to get into the Vegemite — I really did. Spread thin on toast, maybe with butter or cheese. Sometimes it almost tasted good, and I kept thinking “it’s an acquired taste, remember, millions of people love it”, but in the end I decided it wasn’t for me. (My firstyear university experiments with pot, way back when, went much the same way and came to the same end.)

    Actually I’m reminded: my section commander on that same overseas gig saw the Vegemite in the mess hall and thought *that* was a Nutella knockoff. He spread some on about an inch thick and bit in, expecting chocolaty goodness. Well — didn’t work out for him either.

  27. I probably shouldn’t publicize this – but banana and Nutella crepes are available in the German Christman Market in Edinburgh. Over near the galleries.

  28. Next year will be bigger than ever. Take it easy, run a risk, have fun, go for it, Shauny!

    I once swam inside the Iron Curtain … The Cold River Comes in From the Cold: Dissent Protects Democracy

  29. I wish they made a giant ferrero rocher, and I could just use the centre as a dip for the wafers and chocolate outer.
    I have seen the Greens spread in England, but not in Oz. Probably find it in the fancier delis.
    I am also an unashamed fan of the Reeces Peanut butter cup. But have found them too expensive and hard to get in Oz. So do you know what I like to do?
    Cadbury’s Dairymilk plus any decent peanut butter will give an equivalent sensation, and can be just the ticket before a brisk walk-a-thon.
    P.S. Nutella needs butter between it and a fresh baguette, in order to really shine…same as with vegemite, butter is crucial to it’s delight!

  30. “Yum, yummy, yum, yum! Nineteen whole years of being deprived of sticky, browny goodness, and now Mr Ferrero himself is standing in our kitchen.”
    That’s what we thought the first night mum brought John home.
    One year later and I have Ferrero Rocher legs.
    Thanks mum.

  31. hi shauna, BIG jar of nutella for you next time i see you and Garth. john (1 kg jar in AU next year)
    ur legs still look good em.

  32. Em, what do you mean nineteen years deprived of nutella?
    Remember your sixth birthday, when I let you and your eight friends share that little nutella snackpack at your party?
    Now the whole pantry is full of choccy parcels. Come home Em.
    Love your mummy Trish.

  33. Growing up in the states in the 70’s-80’s I didn’t know what Nutella was. It wasn’t until I studied in France ’89-’90 that I was exposed to the stuff. I was like chocolate for breakfast?…. I don’t care what anyone says about France, this rules! The love affair continued upon my return to the states when I was relieved to find I could get it at a specialty grocery that had imported goodies. It also helped that a few kinky girls in the foreign language department showed me other uses for nutella that they’d learned (and to think I thought it was ONLY to be spread on toast) and it’s fate was sealed as one of my favorite things…. ever. MMMmmmm goood. πŸ˜‰

  34. i could NOT get enough nutella during my pregnancy. i went through jars and jars. nutella with apples, on flour tortillas (roll that puppy up like a burrito and it’s a tube of deliciousness), on toast. in the morning, at lunch, as dessert, as a late-night snack when i couldn’t sleep. i was a nutella junkie.

    no wonder i gained 40 pounds!! now i don’t eat much of it, although i’ve got a mostly full jar in the cupboard. damn WW.

Comments are closed.