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Condorelli’s Made in Sicily goodness: the soft nougat

Passion to spare and the ingenious idea of creating soft nougats wrapped in single-serving packages: this is where Condorelli’s success began.

reading time5 minutes

The echoes of the festivities have just died down, but the taste of sweets probably hasn’t…

And speaking of sweets, who has never found nougat in their Epiphany stocking?

Today, we talk about nougat, or rather, ‘torroncino’, with the story of a Made in Italy excellence loved worldwide: the legendary torroncini Condorelli (portioned and wrapped in individual packages)! It is a product devised by the brilliant intuition of the Catanian entrepreneur Francesco Condorelli, born in 1912 in Belpasso on the slopes of Mount Etna.

Passion becomes a career

He has always had a passion for sweets, and ever since he was a child, he worked as a helper in the town’s pastry shop in the afternoons after school. At sixteen, he lost his father and dropped out of school: to provide for his family, he started working in a chocolate factory. He returned to Belpasso and, in 1933, opened a pastry shop in his grandfather’s former house.

But World War II is about to break out, and Francesco is called to arms. In 1943, he was taken prisoner by the British and taken to a prison camp in Tunisia.

He was then freed by the Americans after becoming their trustworthy pastry chef. He returned to Catania in 1945 and started again with his great passion: pastry making with traditional products. During these years, the Belpasso shop grew, and the business expanded. In addition to sweets, Condorelli also catered for wedding receptions and equipped the shop with new machinery, such as stand mixers.

Nougat becomes soft

But popularity came in the 1960s and particularly in 1965. There were two events that led to the invention of soft nougat. At a dinner party, an attempt was made to divide the nougat between the diners, but it was impossible to split it into equal parts, and the dessert’s appearance was ruined.

Back from the dinner party, Francesco Condorelli saw his mother, Maria Grazia, pounding in a mortar the pieces of nougat too hard for her teeth. “All this will end; you will eat soft nougat,” he promises her. “And everyone will eat it!”

This is how he got the idea of creating soft nougats wrapped in single-serving pieces and with citrus flavours. The idea became an instant success, so much so that in 1973, Condorelli started industrial production by purchasing a six thousand square metre warehouse and new machinery to cut the nougat pieces. Seven thousand kilos of almonds thus become fifteen thousand kilos of nougat!

Success from TV to the table

In the 1980s, thanks to the sponsorship of the TV show ‘Domenica in’, the iconic Sicilian torroncini entered the homes of millions of families in Italy, Europe and America. In the 1990s, however, the memorable TV commercials starring Catanese actor Leo Gullotta (still the Condorelli testimonial today) kept the product and brand popularity high.

The present of a great company

In 1993, Francesco’s son Giuseppe Condorelli joined the company, and in 2002, President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi appointed Francesco Condorelli as Grand Officer of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.

Also in the 2000s, the Condorelli Foundation was established by Francesco’s children, Giuseppe and Gloria. The Foundation contributes to the training of young people, the promotion of ‘Made in Sicily’ products and the socio-economic growth of the territory through the dissemination of confectionery culture.

Today, Condorelli S.p.a, headquartered in Belpasso and led by CEO Giuseppe Condorelli, produces 200 million nougats a year, employs dozens of people, sells in 27 countries and has a turnover of millions of Euros.

Congratulations to those who bring Sicily and Italy to the world!

Discover the stories of other outstanding Sicilian features.