Gianduiotti, Turin’s famous chocolates, were named after Gianduja, the Piedmontese stock character of the Italian Carnival. Here is the story of Gianduiotti chocolates.
The stock character of Gianduja
The Gianduja character was created at the beginning of the 19th century by two puppeteers from Piedmont, Sales and Bellone di Oja. After being sentenced to death for lese-majesty because of their show featuring Gironi, considered a parody of the Duke of Genoa and then of Napoleon’s brother, the two puppeteers fled and hid in a farmstead in Callianetto, a small town near Asti, not far from Turin. There they modified their show and created the character of Gianduja – a symbol of the Piedmont people and of Italian Risorgimento – with its wig with the cue pointing up, the cockade with the colors of the Italian flag on its unique hat and a wine mug in its hand: the name Gianduja comes from Gioann dla doja, i.e. John of the mug in the Piedmont dialect.
The invention of Gianduja chocolate
The first chocolate with hazelnuts was made in Turin, Italy in 1806. Due to Napoleon’s blockade, cocoa seeds were very hard to find: some pastry chefs in Turin decided to compensate the lack of cocoa by adding delicious hazelnuts from the Langhe area to their chocolate. This is how a true masterpiece of the Italian pastry art was invented.
The invention of gianduiotti chocolates
Gianduiotti chocolates, with their typical trapezoid or “upturned boat” shape, were invented about fifty years later in Turin. They were the first wrapped chocolates ever and they were originally called givù. In the 1860s, during the Turin Carnival, an actor playing the character of Gianduja distributed among the crowd these new delicious chocolates, that were then named in his honor.