Columbia says Nutella theft claims don't stick

The university has issued a press release trimming the amount of chocolate-hazelnut spread stolen from its dining halls.

By Jason Notte Mar 8, 2013 3:25PM
Jars of Nutella in a supermarket in Slough, England on September 3, 2012 (© Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images)What? Students stealing $5,000 worth of Nutella from Columbia University dining halls each week? That's just ludicrous.

Stealing $2,500 in hazelnut-chocolate spread a week? That's more like it.

Being embarrassed by claims in a student paper like the The Columbia Spectator is one thing, but having your starchy Ivy League laundry aired in The New York Times is another matter entirely. So, Columbia took the odd step of issuing a self-deprecating press release on Thursday downplaying claims of grand snack-spread larceny.

Columbia claims the initial Nutella hoarding cost the school $2,500 the first week it was introduced in mid-February, then "quickly dropped to $450 per week for dining halls that serve some 3,600 students, seven days a week at three campus locations."

It also credited the extensive attention the reports received for shaming students into leaving Nutella jars alone and refraining from filling to-go cups with the spread for late-night baguette-and-banana benders.

It all adds up to more publicity than untainted condiments generally get, but Nutella tends to inspire these outsized reactions wherever jars of its rich, decadent spread appear. The problem in Columbia's case is that a Nutella craving is a somewhat costly habit to maintain. Then again, even the Times story suggested that the $5,000 claim was a bit steep, quoting a university spokeswoman who claimed initial reports are "roughly 10 times greater than the actual figures." 

Still, Nutella's cost and its reputation as a grocery luxury may have inspired its mass disappearance. Columbia likely issued that release in a good-humored attempt to save face, but its subtext seemed more about saving its already socioeconomically stereotyped student body from itself.

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Mar 8, 2013 4:20PM
i think it is better to have these kids jonesing on Nutella than crack or other reasonable, you were once their age and got the munchies when studying at night.  for what parents are paying for college these days, it should be included in their tuition...@$4.50 a bottle, i am not so sure i would buy it myself
Mar 8, 2013 5:18PM
Nutella is only at risk from me if their is also graham crackers in the house... ;-)~ ~~
Mar 8, 2013 5:07PM
I loooooooooooove Nutella-but rarely buy it as it's way too dangerous sitting in my cabinet. A jar can go, just from ME eating the stuff, in about 3 days!!!  Maybe Columbia U can include in their way-too-high tuition and fees a free case of the stuff per each student??? LOL I bet their 'Freshman 15' is more like 'Freshman, Sophomore, Junior and Senior 30'!!!!
Mar 8, 2013 5:52PM
Based on what I know about Ivy League refectories, the stuff is probably just sitting out in the open for anyone to use.  So it's a short step from walking off with an orange or an apple, which is entirely acceptable, to walking off with a jar of Nutella.  It's really the cost of Nutella that makes taking it problematic.  Fortunately, there's an easy fix:  stop stocking it.  It's clearly something of a luxury item; let students buy their own at Stop 'n' Shop! 
Mar 8, 2013 5:20PM
Our Ivy league schools are graduating thieves now? 
Mar 8, 2013 4:37PM
Jiff is now offering a lower-cost alternative. Just FYI.
Mar 8, 2013 6:04PM
I love Nutella!..  Can finish jars and jars at a time! ... Buy the stuff don't steal it!
Mar 8, 2013 7:41PM
Somehow educated people and "liberals" are not necessarily 
Synonomous! 8:))

Mar 8, 2013 9:08PM
Columbia is populated with thieves and miscreants? Reasonably sure we have a famous product of that environment...... can't seem to recall the name. Something to do with expensive golf trips and manufactured unemployment numbers. It will come to me later, I'm sure.
Mar 8, 2013 7:13PM
go in for meal, bring venti-americano and drink, fill cup with nutella and take with you. . ., derrrr!  they are stupid for putting it out there, it's their fault.
Mar 8, 2013 8:24PM
I'm sure the students pay plenty for the cafeteria service.  They're entitled to take food back to their rooms.
Mar 8, 2013 9:02PM
"Students stealing $5,000 worth of Nutella from Columbia University dining halls each week?"

Nothing good can come of these Nutella enemas. Need to stick to coffee.
Jul 8, 2013 5:41PM
Let's what does Columbia produce: Lawyers, Poly Sci majors, lefty journalist, future goobermint workers and Libtards.  So theft is a requirement right?
Mar 8, 2013 5:19PM
It's Bush's fault they steal it anyway.
Mar 8, 2013 8:18PM
All you have to do is go to Big Lots. They have Nutella and Nutella knock offs at reasonable prices below retail. 
Mar 8, 2013 8:34PM
Despite the word "Nut" in the product's name I am going to bet that one of the little Ivy darlings with food allergies will Alma Mater up in Morningside Heights for providing cafeteria food for them to steal without giving adquate warning that this addictive, very tasty stuff is HAZLENUTS AND CHOCOLATE.  And I am sure there are nuts up there with nut allergies smart enough to get into Columbia and not having the street smarts to know they should avoid the stuff if they are allergic to nuts.
Mar 9, 2013 12:12AM

Have them make single-serving packetrs for institutional use.  Restrict how many a diner can receive per meal.   Problem.....well, if not solved, at least cut down quite a bit, eh?     ;)


Mar 8, 2013 4:36PM
Sounds like a thieving bunch of liberals.
Mar 8, 2013 5:22PM
Kids should be purchasing jars of things in stores and plates of things on school property.   If the jars of things are disappearing from the storeroom that supplies the cafeteria, put in cameras or fire the thieves.  If the jars are being stolen out of some kind of store, stop offering them for sale.  What kind of dim wits are running the show?  Is this some kind of inside job?  Is anybody checking the supplies of Tide?
Mar 8, 2013 7:10PM

Trisha S Hakim

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