World Nutella Day: Yes, it's real and it's today

Did you know that today is a holiday? Yes, February 5 is World Nutella Day.

NutellaWorld Nutella Day is a day that pays homage to the "chocolaty hazelnut" spread loved by so many people, young and old, across the globe. It was founded in 2007 by two bloggers, Sara of Ms. Adventures in Italy and Michelle of Bleeding Espresso, to provide us with the opportunity to celebrate, get creative with, and of course, eat Nutella.

Normally, I wouldn't jump on a holiday bandwagon solely designed to celebrate a product. But, we're talking about Nutella here, and I'm intrigued that it was started by two obviously huge fans of the "chocolaty hazelnut" spread.

For me, it's common to see people swooning just from the mere mention of the name "Nutella" - or the very idea of eating it spread on a crêpe or slice of bread or infused within the creamy center of a French macaron. In all honesty, I think I could get my kids to eat anything - as long as I spread Nutella on it or let them dip the food in it to their heart's delight.

Love at first taste

I'll never forget the first time I had Nutella. It was on my honeymoon in Italy. My husband booked us at small bed and breakfasts in cities and hill towns across the country. When we sat down to our first breakfast at our first pensione, individual-sized jars of Nutella was strategically placed next to a basket piled high with bread. After that, it almost seemed like a breakfast place setting just wasn't complete unless it included Nutella.

But, we couldn't just eat Nutella for breakfast. We were on our honeymoon in Italy, so we had to have Nutella for lunch, too.

As our trip went on, we began to picnic outdoors along the beaches of the Cinque Terre, piazzas in Rome, and other spectacular spots throughout Italy. For each meal, we'd shop at the markets for bread, cheese, olives, prosciutto - and Nutella. It was absolutely perfect and oh so delicious.

After we returned from our honeymoon, my husband and I made it a habit to keep a jar of Nutella in our pantry. Now, with our two sons, it's become a necessity to always have Nutella at the ready to add a little sweetness to breakfast, lunch or really any meal.

Celebrate the "chocolaty hazelnut" spread

It's hard not to have your own fond Nutella memories, recipes, treats and more. That's why I'm glad to raise my spoon to toast the "chocolaty hazelnut" spread, and share some ways for you to celebrate the relatively new holiday, too.

In Chicago, you can easily celebrate World Nutella Day at any of these places:

1. Multilingual Connections. Save some room on Valentine's Day. Because, on February 16, you can indulge in one of life's sweet infatuations at Multilingual Connections. The language school, located in Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood, is going all out for World Nutella Day. At its Nutella Day Party, you can play Nutella-themed games, purchase Nutella-inspired treats from local bakeries, and attend short beginner-level Italian sessions.

Multilingual Connections, 2518 W. Armitage Ave.
Sunday, February 16, 1- 4 pm, free event, RSVP online

2. Eataly. Eataly has been the Chicago foodie destination ever since the 63,000-square-foot Italian gourmet food emporium opened here almost three months ago. Since then, visitors have descended upon it in record numbers with one main goal in mind - to eat the best products from across Italy. One of the hottest commodities at Eataly is its Nutella "corner." Its menu is filled with a variety of items designed to let guests "discover and experience Nutella in creative ways they've never tried before." You can choose such treats as Crepes con Nutella, Crostatina alls Nutella, and more.

Eataly, 43 E. Ohio St., open daily 10 am - 11 pm

3. Jam 'n Honey.  The first thing my kids noticed when we first walked through the doors of Lincoln Park's Jam 'n Honey restaurant were the huge jars of Nutella on each table. Whenever we go there, we order our kids pancakes and let them spread on the Nutella. It always makes for a fun, delicious and messy meal. But, if you prefer to leave the spreading to the professionals, you can order the Banana and Nutella Pancakes, Nutella French Toast, or Nutella and Banana Waffle.

Jam 'n Honey, 958 W. Webster Ave., open daily 8 am - 9 pm

4. Vanille PatisserieI love macarons so, of course, it's not much of a surprise to hear that I love Nutella macarons. You can load up on the macarons at any of Vanille Patisserie's three locations in Chicago.

Vanille Patisserie, 2229 N. Clybourn Ave., Chicago French Market (131 N. Clinton St.),  2108 N. Clark St., check the website for hours

Of course, celebrating is simple when you've got Nutella stocked in your pantry. You can easily celebrate World Nutella Day from at home in your kitchen. Anyone who loves to bake can always whip up a Nutella-infused treat, too. Here are some recipes from the World Nutella Day organizers to help provide you with some "chocolaty-hazelnut" inspiration. Personally, I can't wait to try out this recipe for Banana Nutella Bars that I recently saw online in Chicago Parent.

And, it goes without saying that the easiest way to celebrate is to open a jar of Nutella, grab a spoon and dig right in!

Do you have a Nutella love story? What's your favorite Nutella-inspired recipe? What's your very favorite food to eat with Nutella? And, where do you buy Nutella treats? Share your stories, favorites and recipes in the comments below.

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