On Thursday, police were called to break up fistfights, and men and women were willing to bloody each other, during brutal riots that broke out throughout the country. But punches weren’t being thrown because of political injustice or religious oppression – it was because Nutella was on sale. Intermarché, a supermarket chain, announced that the hazelnut spread would be 70% off its regular price for three days, and the ability to buy a jar for €1.40 ($1.75) apparently made otherwise mild-mannered adults willing to hit an old lady with a box.
In L’Horme, a small town in the Loire region, exhausted Intermarché employees said that the store’s entire Nutella supply sold out in 15 minutes – and one person left with a regular-priced black eye. “We were trying to get in between the customers, but they were pushing us,” one worker told Le Progres.
Other stores throughout the region reported the same kind of “riot scenes.” In Saint-Cyprien, shoppers in a hazelnut frenzy threw themselves on an employee who was carrying a pallet filled with Nutella. In Saint-Chamond, a worker said that the store sold the equivalent of three months’ worth of Nutella in less than 15 minutes. And in Rive-de-Gier, the store turned into a French-speaking version of Fight Club. “They are like animals,” one shopper said. “A woman had her hair pulled, an elderly lady took a box on her head, another had a bloody hand. It was horrible.”
Le Parisien reported that police were called to more than one Intermarché location to break up fistfights between customers. In some stores, smart shoppers prepared the night before, hiding jars of Nutella in other aisles, behind unrelated products. In others, the employees knew that things would get nutty (I’m so sorry), and limited the number of jars per customer, or stacked the entire stock near the cash registers.
Ferrero, the company that produces Nutella, shrugged its collective shoulders and said that the blame for the chaos was all on Intermarché. “[Ferrero] deplores this operation and its consequences, which create confusion and disappointments in the mind of consumers,” it said in a statement.
According to The Local, France eats more than a quarter of the world’s annual Nutella supply, downing more than 75,000 tons of the spread every year. Sometimes they can even do it without throwing elbows at a stranger.