“Pagina Non Trovata” has the look of an elegant Italian phrase (or an opera title), until translation and context reveal its harsh reality. The phrase means “page not found”, which in my instance referred to a (former) on-line job posting for Italian candy company Ferrero. My punishment for seeking the advertisement two months after the fact? Ferrero, the second largest chocolate/confectionery company in the world, is (was) looking for sixty taste-testers – “sensory judges” if you will – to offer opinions on its products. O.M.Gee I wish I’d seen this sooner. Instead, I won’t be one of the chosen few because, well, “page not found”.
Let’s ponder this (past) job opportunity for a paragraph, shall we? Ferrero is (was) searching the world for several “average consumers”, who would (will now) get paid to eat chocolate. “No experience necessary”, they claimed (otherwise by definition you aren’t an average consumer). The only real requirement, absent food allergies, is (was) a willingness to move to northwest Italy, which darn-it-all means France and Switzerland are just as easy to visit. Ferrero gives (gave) three months of paid training, followed by an offer to join the company as a part-time taster. “Part-time” in Italy translates to maybe a) second job, or probably b) la dolce vita (“the sweet life”, which definitely does not include a job). Ferrero’s job is akin to unwrapping a bar of chocolate and finding a Wonka golden ticket.
If Ferrero created run-of-the-mill chocolates, searching late on their job opp wouldn’t be such a tragedy. But Ferrero makes Ferrero Rocher (of course they do), those gold-foiled balls of decadent chocolate and hazelnuts. They also make Mon Cheri, those pink-foiled chocolate cubes filled with cherries and sweet liqueur. They even make Tic-Tac’s for gosh sakes, the boxed pill-like mints all-the-rage when I was a kid. And finally, their pièce de résistance (or in Italy, “piu degno de nota”), on which the entire company was founded over sixty years ago, Ferrero makes Nutella.
Maybe it was half-hearted reading up to now, but mention Nutella and most people really sit up and listen. I’m convinced Ferrero puts a secret something into Nutella to make consumers crave hazelnut chocolate spread all the more (bolstering the theory Starbucks does the same with its coffee drinks). Why else would shoppers storm a small store – and engage in a brawl – when the Nutella stock was discounted 50% (see video here)? Which leads to an even nuttier question: why have I never tried Nutella myself?
Nuts+chocolate equals killer-combination – I get that. Give me a basket of Halloween candy and I’ll fish out all the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Offer me thirty-one flavors at Baskin-Robbins and I’ll easily short-list peanut-butter-and-chocolate. Sell me M&M’s at the movie theater and I’ll always choose peanut over plain. But in all my examples, I’m talking peanuts, not hazelnuts. Nutella spread is new territory for me, which means I’m the perfect candidate for Ferrero’s job. I have no experience with hazelnuts.
The more I read about my future employer, the more I’m impressed with their credentials. Ferrero buys 25% of the world’s hazelnut production (and fittingly, acquired the world’s largest hazelnut producer four years ago). They employ 40,000 candy-men and women in a network of 38 trading companies and 18 factories. Ferrero keeps its recipes under lock-and-key, never letting the press into its facilities nor hosting a press conference, and always engineering its own production equipment. A recent survey labeled Ferrero “the most reputable company in the world“.
As if I need a clincher to make this decision, last January Ferrero acquired the Nestle’s company’s candy division. Holy cowbells. On top of Nutella, I get to taste-test Sweetarts and Butterfingers and Laffy Taffy and the decadent Nestle’s Crunch (silver-foiled chocolate with a generous helping of crisped rice)? Why even pay me?
I could do this job. The more I think about it the more I’m convinced Ferrero needs 61 sensory judges. I’m just (fashionably) late to the party. All I need to do is brush up on my college Italian (no joke; I spent a year in Rome back then), convince my wife that our dogs, cats, and horses would be next to heaven in northwest Italy, and promptly board the next Alitalia flight. Sweet life – er, dolce vita – here I come!