Ciao, AW readers! We’re jetting off to Italy today to visit a family business called Rigoni di Asiago. This is the brand responsible for giving the world three delicious jams and spreads: Fiordifutta (a light fruit preserve), DolceDì (a natural sweetener), and Nocciolata (a hazelnut and chocolate spread).
Of the trio, Nocciolata, a spreadable creamy Italian hazelnut sweetened with cocoa and milk, might just be their most famous offering. However, this may be due to Rigoni di Asiago’s character for Nocciolata — a bouncy, dancing squirrel named Skiro. The story behind Skiro is a magical one, rooted in traditions that exude both the flavor of the land and give Skiro fairy tale roots. Here’s a glimpse at the tale of Skiro, as only Rigoni di Asiago can tell it.
The commercial spot above marks the first introduction of Skiro in 2012. His name comes from an old German dialect that was spoken in the Asiago area until 1900. Founder and Rigoni grandmother Nonna Elisa spoke this language and still today, it is used and mixed with Veneto slang. Within this dialect, the word Skirat means “squirrel.”
Many years ago (or at least five, given his introduction year), a writer born in Asiago wrote the fairy tale for children of how the Nocciolata was born. The story was about a solitary gnome named Birgale who invented and discovered Nocciolata.
Skiro was a secondary character and Birgale’s best friend. He lived in the woods in the Altopiano di Asiago (based on a real area in Italy) and was a friend to the gnomes in the forests. With a deep love for hazelnuts, Skiro also served as a helper to the magical little people who invented the delicious Nocciolata.
While Birgale is fairly well known in Italy and even used as a mascot for the company, Skiro became an overnight hit. He fascinated everyone he met so much that a cartoon for kids was made all about Skiro with a booklet included.
At 6’2” with a costume weight of 25 pounds, it’s impossible to miss Skiro if you see him. Speaking of which, this icon is often on the move in Italy and in the United States, especially in New York. Look no further than the Rigoni di Asiago Twitter feed for updates on his next visit accompanied by the hashtag #SpotTheSquirrel. No matter where you catch him next, make sure to take a selfie together — he loves getting his picture taken with fans!