Given the popularity of Nutella, it was only a matter of time before there was competition in the hazelnut-spread arena. Stateside, the two newest competitors are both from Jif, best known as the maker of "choosy moms'" peanut butter.
Jif has introduced a Nutella look-alike Chocolate Flavored Hazelnut Spread and a more distinct Mocha Cappuccino Flavored Hazelnut Spread.
I started with the Nutella doppelganger. I'll admit the name turned me off a little—in my head, the word "flavored" is a nice way of saying "artificial flavorings"—so I was surprised to find that it tastes more like hazelnuts than American Nutella does. As the name implies, this is definitely a chocolate flavored hazelnut spread, as opposed to a chocolate spread flavored with hazelnuts or even an equal billing of chocolate and hazelnuts. I like the emphasis on the hazelnuts in flavor, and I wonder if the spread would benefit from some real hazelnut chunks. The chocolate component tastes like cocoa rather than block chocolate, and the spread has a sweet, almost malted flavor.
As a true coffee lover, I was slightly disappointed in the Mocha Cappuccino flavored spread. It tastes like a watered down version of the chocolate spread, with mild coffee overtones. On the upside, what coffee flavor did come through was pleasant, not burnt or off-tasting. My biggest complaint is that without enough coffee flavor to ground the sweetness, the spread tastes like a sugary mocha frosting (but more on that below).
After a spoon-tasting, I applied some of each spread to a piece of toast. Both have a fluffier, airier consistency than Nutella, which makes them much easier to spread. This isn't exactly a good thing: both Jif spreads have the exact consistency of frosting. Compounded with the sweetness, it felt like I was eating Betty Crocker frosting from a jar. A few years ago that wouldn't have been a problem, but in my old age I can no longer sit down with a tub of frosting and a spoon and not feel a little gross. Sure, we all know that chocolate-hazelnut spreads aren't healthy (or do we?) but there is something about Nutella's depth of flavor and heartier texture that makes it easier to eat on toast. These Jif spreads, while perfectly fine tasting, are too much like frosting for me to ever buy, unless perhaps to ice a cake.