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Reuters/Eric Gaillard
Fistfuls of cocoa.
NOT SWEET

A French grocery chain lowered the price of Nutella—turning customers into “animals”

By Chase Purdy

Hair was pulled, screams bellowed, even blood was spilled—all over little jars of spreadable hazelnut chocolate in the supermarket.

The French chain Intermarché this week has reduced the price of Nutella from €4.50 ($5.59) to €1.40 ($1.74), a 70% discount that has so far sparked a sometimes-violent run on stores, according to media reports (in French). According to the news organization Le Progrès, more than 1 million jars of Nutella were sold during the first day of discounts.

“They are like animals. One woman had her hair pulled. An elderly lady took a box on her head. Another had a bloody hand,” a shopper told The Guardian.

One video of shoppers has already netted more than 2.8 million views, as international viewers marvel at throngs descending into hysteria as they rush and jostle to fill shopping bags with cheap Nutella.

Ferrero, maker of Nutella, has decried the decision by Intermarché to create such chaos with steep discounting, saying its consequences create confusion and dismay in the minds of consumers. As it turns out, this may be the last time Intermarché or any other retailer will be legally allowed to offer a 70% discount. On Jan. 24, the French agriculture minister announced a new food bill that would cap promotional discounts at 34%.

Oddly enough, the origin of Nutella can be traced back to days in Europe when food was rationed following World War II. Back then, it was mostly marketed as an affordable, nutritious spread for toast. The product hit the US in the 1980s, and quickly gained a loyal following.