'World's Richest Candyman' Died on Valentine's Day

Michele Ferrero brought Nutella to the world
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 16, 2015 2:21 AM CST
'World's Richest Candyman' Died on Valentine's Day
The elder Ferrero turned to hazelnuts to make the spread that became Nutella affordable.   (AP Photo/The Oregonian, Doug Beghtel)

Pastry maker Pietro Ferrero invented Nutella amid postwar chocolate shortages in Italy, but it was his son who brought the cocoa-hazelnut paste to the world. Michele Ferrero, who died on Valentine's Day at the age of 89, built the family firm into a $30 billion global confectionary empire, creating products such as Ferrero Rocher chocolates, Tic Tacs, and Kinder Eggs, the BBC reports. According to a Forbes profile, Ferrero was Italy's wealthiest man and the "richest candyman on the planet," with his family's wealth of $23.4 billion making them the world's 30th richest.

Ferrero oversaw candy company Ferrero SpA's rapid overseas expansion beginning in the 1950s, the Wall Street Journal reports, but created new products instead of acquiring other companies and insisted that the business always remain in the hands of the family. The younger of Ferrero's two sons, Giovanni Ferrero, became chief executive after older brother Pietro Ferrero Jr. died while cycling in South Africa in 2011, reportedly of a heart attack. (A French judge renamed a baby girl whose parents called her "Nutella.")

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