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Nutella and peanut butter: The battle

Settle an old argument for me. My wife and I have fought about this since our youngest was a baby. It’s become a dispute bigger than the East Coast/West Coast beef in American rap or whether Didi Hallervorden or Fips Asmussen wrote the first-ever German one-liner. Think Kramer vs. Kramer.

It’s important I get this settled today because it’s our 13th wedding anniversary.

Nutella, peanut butter.
I know it’s my name, not Nutella but we all know what it is. Plus, cool that my name is on a Nutella jar.

It started when our first kid was just a year old. My wife offered her a Nutella-laden spot of Brötchen (bread roll).

“What are you doing?” I demanded. “Do you want to get her hooked on chocolate at this early of an age?”

My statement seemed to puzzle my wife. She looked at me as though I had suddenly turned into a cloud of semi-transparent gas that was whispering commands to her in a language never before heard in this solar system.  She didn’t know whether to laugh at the discovery of a talking gaseous mass or cry because she was obviously hallucinating.

“It’s just Nutella,” she said. “I’ve eaten it my entire life and look at me.” I don’t actually know if she said that “look at me” bit but it’s what I always hear when we talk food because I’m clearly the American in the relationship, if you know what I mean. I’m overweight, is what I’m saying.

She’s obviously the European.

“It’s chocolate and that’s a baby!” I hollered. Despite insisting that my kids carry both a blue and a red passport, I’ve inwardly always hoped that they would adopt their mother’s eating habits but get everything else from me. On that day, the half a square centimeter of Brötchen with a drop of Nutella was about to ruin that.

“It’s Nutella and I’ve eaten it my whole life (and look at me),” she said again. Then she leaned into her wife-of-an-American toolbox and said: “Plus, you were giving her peanut butter yesterday and there’s no difference.”

Which is where you come in. Have you ever heard anything so absurd? Me neither.

Nutella and peanut butter are in different galaxies. Peanut butter in its purest form is crushed peanuts – straight from the earth – mixed with a dash of salt. Ok, you might mix in some butter and two dashes of salt and the peanuts are actually roasted but that’s it. It’s food so pure Adam and Eve probably dined on it before partaking in a pomegranate. Neanderthals maybe even ate peanut butter and they weren’t capable of sin because all of that hadn’t been invented yet.

Peanut butter is pure and natural.

Nutella, on the other hand, was invented by an industrialized society trying to trick people into believing hazelnuts were chocolate. It worked! Nutella tastes great! But it’s a chocolate made by heavy machinery and should only be consumed for dessert or as a treat. Heavy machinery is nothing for babies or the main course.

I tolerate it on the breakfast table because I know an entire country would revolt if I expressed distaste but I don’t really believe that anyone – not even Germans – would believe that it’s the same thing as peanut butter.

“Honey,” I now often tell my daughter, “maybe one Brötchen half with Nutella is enough.” She’ll be a teenager soon but the Nutella poisoning took hold. She loves the stuff.

My wife will scowl at me across the breakfast table.

“So you get to have two or three Brötchen halves covered in peanut butter but she only gets to have a half with Nutella?”

It’s a wonder we’re still married.


  1. Well calorie-wise you’re a tiny little bit better off with Nutella, if your concern is that your kids get overweight, but the difference is just about 50kcal per 100g (just looked it up, I don’t usually know stuff like this). Also I heard that peanut butter was specifically invented by an American doctor to shove as many calories as possible into sick patients who don’t want to eat. It might be an urban legend though. Anyway, I’m siding with your wife here, simply because I don’t like the taste of peanut butter that much.

    Happy anniversary, hope your marriage survived this disagreement! 🙂

  2. Ava Ava

    I tried to substitute some of my peanut butter addiction for Nutella when we first moved to Germany, because those tiny little peanut butter tubs are kind of pricey. It was a total failure. They are not the same.

    • Drew Portnoy Drew Portnoy

      Ugh those tubs. I always wondered how they managed to pack the peanut butter in there but remove the taste.

  3. Drew Portnoy Drew Portnoy

    Funnily, this blogpost rekindled the argument but my son has come down on my side.

  4. Willy Gilbert Willy Gilbert

    I have to agree with you that peanut butter and Nutella are not in the same class BUT they were meant to be MARRIED!! I have lived in Germany for quite some time and I know the battle you are fighting! So to convert my German friends to my way of thinking I have introduced them to Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups and have shown them that it is NOT a sin to add PNB to nutella! I understand why Germans don’t like peanut butter because the crap they were getting was full of sugar and tasted AWFUL!! Since I was military and had access to the Commissary I introduced the local kids to American PNB and then went so far as to smear jelly on top of my peanut butter brotchen. After they recovered from that shock I introduced them to Nutella on top of peanut butter. Well the rest is history and now the local food chains are also importing the real american peanut butter to support my revolution!! I’m still working on the salted popcorn though and that is truly a fight!!

    • Drew Portnoy Drew Portnoy

      Your work is appreciated. Fight the fight! And popcorn is a good point for a future blog. Sugary popcorn should be erradicated, like Polio!

  5. Heather Heather

    I hear ya! I asked my son’s Kita permission to give him a peanut butter sandwich once, wondering if they had an allergy problem there, but they never even considered allergies as a problem. The response I got was, “No, it’s a sweet, just like Nutella.” I was too shocked to respond and had to pick up my jaw off the floor first. Nutella is over 50% sugar. Peanut butter is 3% (off of the jars in my cupboard).

    • Drew Portnoy Drew Portnoy

      Whew, after I wrote this I wondered if it was just us. But it’s the same fight! Also: Nothing more than getting a lecture from an Erzieherin.

  6. […] wife and I have a battle that occasionally flares up about whether Nutella and peanut butter are for dessert or meals (Nutella is clearly a dessert food, I contend). She’s made some sound arguments but sometimes Germans just throw the boundary between […]

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