“When I proposed to marry her I said to her: ‘I would be very happy if you answered yes. But think about it. And mind it: if you accept you’ll marry a man who always talk about chocolate. And if in the evening coming back from the office I’ll tell you ‘today I made five kilos more than yesterday’ you know you have a completely happy and peaceful husband “. These words well describe the all-encompassing passion of Michele Ferrero for his work, the commitment of the Italian entrepreneur to turn the small family pastry into a veritable confectionery industry with international success. Today, the IEX Stories tell the story of Michele Ferrero, an industrial and cultural icon admired in Italy and abroad.
The History of Ferrero: a family success
The Ferrero industry was born in the 1940s. On May 14, Piera and Pietro decide to take the big step: their family-run pastry shop in Alba, in Piedmont, becomes a factory, complete with a deed of incorporation to the Chamber of Commerce. Pietro Ferrero, master confectioner, had opened a small workshop years ago in via Rattazzi, which has now become the historical site of the Ferrero plants. The wife Piera managed, instead, the sale to the public located in Via Maestra. The turning point comes with the idea of using one of the products of which Piedmont is richer: hazelnuts. Thus was born the Pasta Gianduja, the first product marked Ferrero that combined the sweet taste of chocolate with the strong taste of hazelnut. On the packaging of the chocolate dough, wrapped in foil and sliced and placed on bread, dominated the typical Piedmontese mask, Gianduia in fact, smiled at Italy that was slowly reborn after the war. Sweets for everyone: this is the dream of Piera and Pietro, this is the fundamental value transmitted to her son Michele, who, as soon as twenty years old, begins to collaborate in the family business. After the death of the patron Pietro, Giovanni Ferrero, his brother, thinks of taking over the reins of the confectionery industry. Ferrero products are exported outside the Piedmontese borders, thanks to a very efficient and widespread sales network that conquers the German market. Giovanni also disappears in 1957: it is up to Michele Ferrero to take the responsibility of the company on his shoulders. Creativity and innovation become the watchwords of the Ferrero house: Michele contaminates everyone with his desire to experiment new ways and give life to new products, which will leave an indelible mark on the history of Italian excellence. Mr Ferrero also winks at the promotion of his creations, and dedicates ample space to advertising, with spots that have become iconic. Under the guidance of Michele Ferrero, the company becomes the multinational we know today, one of the most important confectionery industries in the world, which has always maintained its objectives: “To think differently from others and never betray the customer”.
Ferrero products: from children to adults, sweets for all palates
The history of Ferrero is a history of products that have changed the lives of Italians, first of all, but that have also become a symbol of the Made in Italy confectionery industry in the world. From the famous Nutella to the evergreen snacks that continue to feed generations of children. But while the most famous spreadable cream in the world deserves a deepening apart on the blog of Italian’s Excellence, there is room for a quick rundown of Ferrero products become a heritage of Italian confectionery. A journey through the brilliant intuitions of Michele Ferrero, the Italian Willy Wonka who with his “Chocolate Factory” makes all of us dream again.
Among the best-selling products of the Piedmontese company there are these “very old” pralines. In 1956 they conquered the Italian and German markets: everything started from the firm will of Michele Ferrero to revolutionize the sale of chocolates. “Something that had an inviting wrapping paper, elegant, luxurious, a flaming red, that gave the idea of a small party at a price accessible to all.” No more bulky and expensive boxes: it was more immediate and economic to surprise the people you love with a single chocolate, individually wrapped and designed to be pulled out at any time. It can be a party at any time with Mon Chéri: chocolate, cherry and liqueur to warm up even the coldest hearts in a moment.
“Easter every day” with Kinder Surprise eggs. More milk and less cocoa for the joy of mothers and a miniature surprise to make children happy throughout the year at an affordable price. It was 1968 and with that product the Ferrero industry became Kinder Ferrero. From the German language, the patron Ferrero borrowed the term designated to indicate children, “kinder” in fact, to create a brand that no longer needs presentations, in Italy and in the world. And who knows if Michele Ferrero had in mind those little eyes that smile in front of an egg, when he decided to reduce the size of eggs and surprise, but to increase the joy of the little ones?
In 1982 the creative genius of Michele Ferrero born another product inspired by the mignon pastry: the Ferrero Rocher. Not just a simple pastry, but a refined and elegant chocolate. Rich outside and inside, which at every bite should give the palate a full flavour. A small piece of chocolate and hazelnut, wrapped in a luxurious and golden paper. The only praline can satisfy the famous lady’s languor with the yellow hat. Fortunate that Ambrogio is never without it.
60s: what was really missing in the motorway restaurants? The bars! How could you give a moment of pure energy and concentrated charge to travellers all over Italy? With Pocket Coffee! “The charge of coffee and the energy of chocolate” still accompany the breaks of those who work and want an espresso in a pocket format. Michele Ferrero had thought of everything, but above all of everyone, trying to satisfy every need, even in the adult world.
And if chocolate is too bad, then comes the healthy energy of Kinder chocolate bars, a nutritious and energetic snack in which the chocolate and milk blend perfectly, giving an unique taste of its kind. The Kinder taste that is recognized with closed eyes, which melts in your mouth and which has conquered the market, as well as the heart. Where there is a child’s smile, starting with the famous package, there is a chocolate Kinder bar. Or two, three, four. One leads to another.
Two snacks in one. To be shared, if desired. But not even. To be preserved. Yes, definitely better, delaying the pleasure in more points of the day. Kinder Bueno are wafers covered with chocolate and filled with hazelnut cream and crispy Piedmontese hazelnuts, one for each small square. For all tastes and in different variants: from white chocolate to intense dark. Individually wrapped, to always have the feeling that it’s not over, what more chocolate awaits us there, ready to give us our beloved dose of serotonin and happiness.
Among the most beloved Ferrero products of all time there are not only chocolate creations. Hands up who has never tried at least one taste of the line of minty Tic Tac, on the market since 1969. Yes, it is exactly how you are thinking: the name is onomatopoeic. Try to shake the caramels inside the plastic box: nothing but a familiar tick, in fact.
If at Christmas you cannot miss a box of chocolates mixed in the splendid packs for the Ferrero parties, in the summer the Ferrero product that cannot be renounced is this fresh drink. In sharp contrast with the carbonated drinks offered by the market of those years, in 1972 Michele Ferrero chose the simplicity of a cup of cold tea, to drink practically during a walk with the straw. Traditionalists prefer it to lemon, the most creative prefer it to peach. Tell me what taste of Estathè you prefer and I’ll tell you who you are.
The legacy of Michele Ferrero: hard work and commercial genius
It could take hours to list all the products that Ferrero has designed and which continue to thicken the shelves of shops, supermarkets and households. Fresh snacks and soft ones with the taste of homemade cake. Genuine ingredients and maximum quality. These are the imperatives that Michele Ferrero has left to his family that continues to successfully deal with the Ferrero industry. His products never disappointed the customer’s needs. Every single chocolate is good that “Ca piasa a madama Valeria“ (likes to Mrs Valeria), that is, that meets the tastes of the average housewife, the main customer of Ferrero products. “Working, creating, giving” is the motto that condenses well the story of excellence of Michele Ferrero. A man who has closely watched the work of every single worker to understand where to start to do great things. A man who has been able to combine the goodness of tradition with the creativity of innovation. Love for the company and zero fear of risk, because every story of excellence comes from courage.