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Billionaire Nutella Tycoon Michele Ferrero Dies at 89

He was the richest man in Italy.

The inventor of Nutella passed away at 89.
The inventor of Nutella passed away at 89.
Justin Sullivan for Getty Images /

The owner of Nutella manufacturer Ferrero Group passed away Saturday at the age of 89. Michele Ferrero "built the business founded by his parents in the 1940s into one of the world’s biggest confectionery companies" and had a net worth of $22.3 billion at the time of his death, reports Bloomberg, earning him the title of the richest person in Italy.

According to the official Nutella website, an early version of the spread was developed in the 1940's by Ferrero's father Pietro; cocoa was scarce due to wartime rationing, leading Pietro to add hazelnuts "to extend the chocolate supply." Michele Ferrero later refined the product and coined in Nutella in 1964. The cultishly-adored spread has been used in everything from cronut holes to soft-serve and NYC's Italian mega-market Eataly even has its own Nutella bar. Just don't try to name your baby after the spread (in France, at least).

In addition to Nutella, Ferrero also produces Ferrero Rocher truffles, Kinder brand chocolates, and the tiny breath mints known as Tic Tacs.

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