Hazelnuts sustain family businesses, and star in recipes, in the Langhe region of Piedmont, Italy, where the rolling hills are covered with hazelnut trees.
"The climate here is perfect for them," said Emanuele Canaparo. He has about 12,000 trees, which produce the nuts they roast for their own chocolate-hazelnut spread, a tradition here. Still, he says a much-more-famous version that paved the way for their success: Nutella.
It's a product, Canaparo said, "that made hazelnuts famous throughout the world."
In the 1940s, Italian pastry maker Pietro Ferrero created Nutella, which is now so popular it sells in 160 countries, Fans gush about it. It's about the only thing on the menu in some cafés.
What is it that makes Nutella almost addictive? The company that makes it, Ferrero, wants to keep it a secret. They would not let CBS News inside to shoot the process, and they declined a request for an interview.
They've had some bad press regarding the palm oil in their product, and, recently, hazelnut suppliers in Turkey.
At Canaparo's Nocciole d'Elite, they pack more hazelnuts into their spread, which means less sugar and no palm oil. It's about 58 percent hazelnut, according to Hannah Strong, who says that's four times the hazelnut content as Nutella.
In the nearby, tiny town of Cortemilia, the hazelnut is celebrated – and so is Giuseppe Canobbio, the "King of Hazelnuts."
At La Corte di Canobbio ("The house of hazelnuts!"), several generations of the Canobbio family work together, almost in awe of the nut.
"When I crack open hazelnuts," said Giuseppe, "what goodness! The aroma!"
They showed correspondent Seth Doane how to make their special hazelnut torte, which uses their own artisanal spread – more than half of it comprised of pure hazelnuts.
"Hats off to Nutella!" Giuseppe said. His daughter, Paola, added, "They taught that this could become a job."
The rich chocolate-hazelnut creation has been a staple for generations of local cooks, who are delighted to share this precious nut with the rest of the world.
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Story produced by Anna Matranga and Julie Kracov.
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