Brantford goes nuts for Nutella

Thousands gathered at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre to celebrate World Nutella Day.

Sponsored by Ferrero in partnership with the City of Brantford, approximately 2,500 people, families as well as students,attended the event, compared to around 2,000 last year. Guests from out of town, including Toronto and Kitchener-Waterloo, also joined in on the entertainment, free food and complimentary swim and skate passes. The event included giveaways, a baking challenge and a draw for one of 10 Nutella gift bags.

Dana Speane, marketing and sales assistant for Brantford parks and recreations services, is one of the event organizers. “The flow is much better this year. The bakers were spread out through the facility and there is a lot more room for people to find their way through the different stations,” she said.

Similar events took place last year. “The added value of the photo booth was fun.” said Speane. “Families got a lot of use out of that…there was always a line-up there.” The face painting was also new this year and turned out to be a big hit with the kids.

This is the first time Laurier, through the LEAF program, made arrangements to fund a bus that would transport a minimum of 20 students to the event. The program gives international students the opportunity to upgrade their English skills before they apply to a program. However, six students signed up so a taxi van was called instead.

“It’s a good opportunity for international students, and specifically LEAF students, to get involved in the Brantford community,” explained Carla Managahis, student staff at the LEAF office. “Nutella is a pretty big franchise and there is a factory here so I thought it would be a good way to interact as well as taste some of the food they are making.”

With the words “I love Nutella” painted on many of their faces, residents stood in long lineups to sample the Nutella treats brought to the event by local businesses for free.

“I have never tried Nutella before so I’m very excited for this,” said Natalie Lu, an international student from China as she lined up for a free jar of Nutella.

When guests walk through the door, they are greeted by a volunteer and given a “Baker’s Passport,” with which they received a stamp for every station they attended. A completed passport was put into a draw for the chance to win one of 10 Nutella gift bags. These bags included Ferrero products such as Tic Tacs, Kinder Eggs and Nutella.

The Blue Dog Café, Freedom House, Home Baking by Carolyn, Rossini Lodge, Solely Cannoli, Strodes BBQ & Deli, Sweet Bakery and Gus and Guido’s participated in the event. They brought various Nutella-infused treats for anticipating guests waiting to get their hands on something sweet.

“We made just over 700 pieces for today,” said Carolyn Fawcett of Home Baking by Carolyn pointing to the assortment of treats including thimble cookies, cupcakes and Nutella shortbread.

The gymnasium was packed with children in line to see the Incredible Hulk and Hazel the Witch from Little Charmers, a children’s television show. They were also giving out a mini, four-colour pack of Play-Doh to every child waiting in line.

Perhaps the station with the longest line up was the Nutella pancakes. Families waited together in a line that started on the first floor and made its way up the stairs to the second.

“We ordered 2,500 pancakes from Strodes. They prepared all the pancakes for us,” said manager of community recreation Lori-Dawn Cavin. Two of the 31 volunteers wearing white “! Love Nutella” t-shirts hurriedly put two pancakes on each plate. Guests took a plate and selected either a little cup with a serving of Nutella in it or maple syrup.

Freedom House, a local church, handed out samples of black bean pulled pork Nutella chili topped with shredded cheese with the intention of promoting Frosty Fest, a winter carnival taking place in Harmony Square the following weekend.

“I took two more jars to send to my family in China,” replied Lu when asked what she thought about Nutella after trying it for the first time.

All competitors in the Bakers’ Challenge went home with an award. Gus and Guido’s took the award for best cupcake/cake. The prize for best muffin was Strodes BBQ and Sweet Bakery had the best square. Home Baking by Carolyn won best cookie. Solely Cannoli and Freedom House tied for the category of most unique. The best presentation went to Rossini Lodge and the other category went to Blue Dog Coffee Roasters.