How Ferrero Rocher chocolates were inspired by the Virgin Mary
The popular chocolate and hazelnut treats were named after the site of Marian apparitions...
These are one of my all time favourite chocolates. So it was very exciting to learn about the inspiration behind these chocolates.
Within the gold foil wrapping of a Ferrero Rocher candy is multi-layered confection that seems like some kind of magic straight out of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory: a single roasted hazelnut, encased in a wafer shell filled with hazelnut chocolate, which is itself topped with chocolate studded with chopped hazelnuts.
These magical chocolates, however, were inspired, not by Roald Dahl’s children’s book, but by the Virgin Mary herself.
When the Italian chocolatier Michele Ferrero introduced the treats in 1982, it is believed that he named them “Rocher” after the craggy rock grotto, called the Rocher de Massabielle, that marks the place where the Blessed Mother appeared to St. Bernadette in Lourdes, France.
The woman appeared 18 times in total at the grotto, revealing herself as the Virgin Mary to Bernadette and asking the girl to dig into dirt, where a spring of water — said to have miraculous healing properties — poured from and still continues to produce water today.
The chocolates’ hazelnut-pocked surface bears more than a passing resemblance to the rock formation at Lourdes, a place that had a special meaning for Ferrero, who died on Valentine’s Day in 2015 at the age of 89.
A devout Catholic, Ferrero was known for his strong devotion to Our Lady. At the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the founding of his company, he said: “The success of Ferrero we owe to Our Lady of Lourdes; without her we can do little.”
As the third largest chocolate producer in the world, Ferrero had a lot to be thankful for. The Ferrero Rocher candies, along with Nutella, Kinder treats and Tic Tacs, brought in over $10 billion Euros in 2016.
Ferrero was said to have made an annual pilgrimage to Lourdes, taking his top manager. He also organised a visit to the shrine for his employees, and had a statue of the Virgin Mary placed in each of his company’s 14 production facilities around the world.
The love for Ferrero Rocher is so strong that the candy could even be used as a bribe. My husband Julian knows that I love them so much that he often buys them for me and I know I will always have them on my birthdays and our anniversaries. Whether or not we were giving or receiving the Ferrero Rochers, I have always enjoyed eating them.
So the next time you buy these chocolates think about the inspiration which led to the invention of these chocolates which are irresistible and mouth watering as you bite into them...