Great Value Deluxe Mixed Nuts (with 40% cashews) houses many nuts, one of them being hazelnuts… but on the packaging they refer to hazelnuts as filberts. My girlfriend wondered at first what filberts were and why they didn’t put hazelnuts on the can. Great Value isn’t a Canadian brand as it is owned by Walmart, but these particular packaged mixed nuts were processed in Mississauga, in the G.T.A. (greater Toronto area) so with this fresh wonderment upon the both of us, I decided to look up filberts and find out why the hazelnuts were being called that. I initially assumed/speculated that it would be a wonky British term (because they have so many,) but what we soon found was the term’s origins coming from a religious French tradition.

(A little edit I wanted to add here; There are other theories to the naming of this nut, like that they came from the German word for full-beard ‘vollbart‘, and that later became filbert which is the nut’s first name, but I’m confident the Anglo-Saxons named the nut first as ‘hæsel‘ which later became hazels {because the earliest signs of the hazel species existing was in ancient England, 7 000 years ago.} It is up for debate whether filbert came from the previously mentioned German word or if they just sound similar, and I come to the same conclusion as Darth Vader’s name- that it’s a coincidence. Okay, edit done.)

As hazelnuts were best cultivated at the end of August, close to the feast day of St. Philibert’s Day on August 20th, the people of France began calling hazelnuts: filberts, in honour of that. Although Turkey is the world capitol of hazelnuts, the French people dominated the hazelnut name, arguably. In the U.S., people give hazelnuts nicknames like cobnuts or just hazels, but here in Canada, Great Value has (potentially) decided to bend the knee to our Quebec overlords and call the nut by their French name to appease them.

For those who don’t know, the province of Quebec has several different and divisive rules about product management, associations, and deals that corporations have to abide by if they want to have their business in their land. Quebec acts as if they’re their own country, essentially. And although this is just speculation, one can find a pattern or come to a conclusion that because so many of their rules placed upon international brands require changes like calling hazelnuts filberts, many of these French-dominant changes bleed over into the rest of Canadian products.

My girlfriend was upset to discover that the reason why hazelnuts were called filberts was for a saint’s day, saying that religion should not be the reason something is named differently, and I couldn’t agree more. It was only in 2005 that the term ‘Common Era’ really started growing throughout American institutions as a replacement for ‘anno Domini (in {the} year of {our} Lord, referencing Christ.) Even though the term ‘Common Era’ first came about in 1615 by Johannes Kepler as a nondenominational phasing to describe out species time in history, many Christians still fight to this day for their phrasing to be the one used by the world, finding their dominance over other religions being backtracked as an attack or affront to their faith.

What does filberts mean in the grand scheme of naming a nut, or anything at all? Things have history and histories are placements in time. Should we change nothing now that we have it? Or can things change all the time depending on the flow of society and their furthering interconnections? More so, what are good reasons to change things versus bad? The only emotional backlash I ever felt for something changing institutionally was the addition of feathers and fur on dinosaur models in museums. I have since come to love it, but I remember feeling so taken aback when I first saw it, thinking ‘NO! This isn’t what dinosaurs look like! These people have ruined everything!’ But looking at this hazelnut/filbert thing, I wonder what the point of only calling them filberts on the can is. I don’t know, but I think me wanting to share it with you lot comes from a place of questioning labels. I hope you got something out of this thought piece! And remember, I love you, and keep on thinking. Thanks for reading; bye.


One response to “Filberts”

  1. Very interesting Joe!! Especially interesting to me b/c of the linguistic background re: filberts. It reminds me of another odd naming convention: The Reese’s brand seems to be called Reese in Canada. I’m guessing it’s so that they could keep the same logo for the products sold in Quebec, since French doesn’t have “apostrophe s”

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