The Mystery and Magic Behind Hazelnuts

Dear Reader:

If you are a Nutella “junkie’ and love eating this popular product on bread or toast for breakfast you are not alone. Millions of Americans cite this product as their ‘go to’ breakfast as they ‘go to’ work.

The most important ingredient found in this spread is the hazelnut. (Of course the cocoa goes a long way in its popular promotion.) The notoriety of this product has given hazelnuts a huge boost to many foreign economies, as well as, experimental test growing in states like Oregon.

Nutella was the product of hard times. During World War II, an Italian chocolate-maker named Ferrero couldn’t get enough cocoa, so he mixed in some ground hazelnuts instead. Then he made a soft and creamy version. It conquered Italy and soon the world.

“The recipe for world domination, it turns out, isn’t too complicated: Sugar, cocoa, palm oil and hazelnuts. Three of those ingredients are easy to get. Sugar, cocoa and palm oil are produced in huge quantities.Hazelnuts, though, which some people call filberts, are a different matter. Most of them come from a narrow strip of land along the coast of the Black Sea in Turkey.

 The hazelnut trees grow on steep slopes that rise from the Black Sea coast. The farms are small; grandparents and children help to harvest the nuts, usually by hand. “It’s a very traditional way of life,” Azzaoui says. “The Turkish family farmers are extremely proud of the hazelnut crop, as it has been part of their family history for centuries. Farmers have been growing hazelnuts here for 2,000 years.”

Nutella is now making this traditional crop extremely trendy.

Ferrero, the Nutella-maker, now a giant company based in Alba, Italy, uses about a quarter of the world’s hazelnut supply — more than 100,000 tons every year. Other countries are trying to jump in on this product and in the United States Oregon is expanding its hazelnut farms. 

(Source: “Thanks to Nutella, the World Needs More Hazelnuts”)

Hazelnuts just aren’t nutritionally sound but they have a long, rich history based on folklore and religion. The story below is one such story that has been passed down from generation to generation.

Of all the myths and legends of nature’s gifts that creep their way into our lives, the vivid story of the magical Hazel tree is one that is most celebrated.

When we look to the ancient stories of Celtic lore, we hear tales of how the Hazel is associated with wisdom and inspiration. This sacred tree is said to be cloaked in a powerful magic which can imbue those who eat its fruit.

Nine magical Hazel trees were said to once line the borders between the human world and the realm of the gods; these Hazel trees  bore branches laden heavy with fruit and their nuts would often fall into a nearby stream, where they would be consumed by the salmon. After eating the hazelnuts, the fish would gain all the knowledge of the world and were known as the Salmon of Wisdom! Bright, glistening spots appeared on the sides of the salmon to show that they had been blessed by the Magical Hazel trees. Those who ate the hazelnuts (or the fish) were said to gain prophetic abilities and live a life full of wisdom!


Today in many European countries hazel tree branches are used in any kind of religious rite involving water…including baptisms.

Hazels have been used for divination throughout the centuries. Druidic wands were made from the wood, and it has always been the preferred wood for water divining and dowsing.

Until quite recently young lovers roasted hazel-nuts over fires at Hallowe’en, which was also known as ‘Nut-crack Night’. The way they burnt steadily together or flying apart, foretold the course of their relationship in the coming year.

It is, however, in a passage from Julian of Norwich that I discovered a beautiful message from God about His place in our lives…and it deals with the hazelnut.

According to Julian, as she gazes upon a hazelnut God placed in her hand, she hears God describe it thusly: It is all that is created….It lasts, and lasts forever, because God loves it.   Everything that is, has its being through the love of God.  

God creates, loves, and sustains hazelnuts and all creation, one microsecond at a time.

This passage made me think about the messages God sends us daily… letting us know His Presence is with us always…even in the seemingly trivial everyday aspects of our lives. Mustard seeds, sparrows, lost lambs, small saplings and now hazelnuts are equally precious to our Creator because He created everything to be loved and cared for by us.

So until tomorrow….Blessed be the hazelnut and the mustard seed, for such is God’s realm of Omnipresence.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

*Patience paid off….my iPhone camera caught a chickadee on top of the ‘little chapel birdhouse.’

I caught my hybrid pastel Mexican petunias smiling in the early morning sun….so pretty! A great way to greet the day!

Anne and her sister are in Rome painting and Anne has proclaimed that she is in love with Rome…her pictures made everyone want to be able to snap their fingers and be there. Have fun girl and make lots and lots of sisterly memories!


*Speaking of God’s love for small things…this kindergarten photo of Rutledge made me pause and gasp…he suddenly looks so much older …It reminds me that Rome and I have a lot in common….ancient! 🙂



*Sis Kinney is doing some dog sitting for her family in Raleigh this weekend so she decided to take some back issues of Southern Living magazine to read. Lo and behold she came across a Summerville Tea article ….dating back to December of 2013. Since we had just talked about the origin of this title a few days ago she sent me this picture. I think I will try to buy this back copy of the magazine if there is a still a copy around. Thanks Sis for thinking of all of the blog family when you read this!

About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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4 Responses to The Mystery and Magic Behind Hazelnuts

  1. Sis H Kinney says:

    Good Saturday morning, Becky!
    No need for you to try to purchase that Southern Living magazine from December, 2013; I will stick it in the mail to you. I have finished going through it and was going to take it to the next doctor’s office when I went (we take all the magazines we’ve finished reading to whatever doctor appointment comes next all the time – they’re always grateful for a “fresh supply”). But, since you mentioned it, I’ll just mail it to you!
    Never heard these tales/legends of hazelnuts. My daughter is highly allergic to most tree nuts, and hazelnuts are way up on that list, so we didn’t have Nutella around much. However, it IS a great treat to have on toast or bagels or whatever! I’ve even caught my granddaughters digging a spoon into a jar and eating it that way!!
    Have a truly satisfying Saturday.
    Much love,


    • Becky Dingle says:

      You are too sweet….thanks for sending the article. Jakie is highly allergic also to any kind of nut so have to be really careful. Hope all went well with the dog sitting!!


  2. bcparkison says:

    Good info on the nuts. Years ago I remember reading about a new tea plantation in the Carolinas. The mag. was probably Victoria. The older ones are better than the new version. Production stopped at one time and then came back in.


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