NEW YORK — This has all the makings of a tempest in a Nutella jar, which may not be as appealing as a Nutella milkshake, Nutella fudge or Nutella-stuffed French toast. Or stolen Nutella, which, apparently, has mouthwatering appeal at Columbia University.
Last month one of Columbia’s undergraduate dining halls began serving Nutella every day, not just in crepes on weekends. For the uninitiated, Nutella is a creamier-than-peanut-butter, chocolate hazelnut spread from Italy that a college student might eat a whole jar of in a single sitting when the pressure is on.
The problem was that the Columbia students went through jars and jars of Nutella — at least 100 pounds a day, according to a freshman member of the Columbia College Student Council who had urged the university’s Dining Services operation to provide it in the first place. Apparently they were not just eating it in the dining hall. They were spiriting it away in soup containers and other receptacles, to be eaten later.
For Dining Services, the unexpected demand was an unexpected expense. And before you could say chocolate-covered Nutella marshmallow cookies, the council member, Peter Bailinson, heard from Vicki Dunn, the executive director of Dining Services. The subject was how much Nutella students were taking back to their dorms — or wherever they were taking it — and how much all that Nutella was costing.
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“People take silverware, cups and plates, and that adds up over the course of a year to a lot of money,” he said. “With Nutella, it added up much more quickly. Where Dining might have to spend $50,000 to replace silverware and cups, they were spending thousands of dollars on Nutella in one week.”
Dunn “told me it was close to $5,000 in that first week,” he said. As for the amount of Nutella that Columbia students were consuming, he said, “I was told it was more than 100 pounds per day.”
Nutella is widely available on school campuses.
Kathryn Thayer, a senior, said her time as a resident assistant in a dorm had included women “complaining about their roommates finishing their Nutella jars.”
And Jeff Desroches, a junior, said he had made off with Nutella when he was stressed out before final exams — enough to last all day.
“Usually,” he said, “people apply peanut butter on one slice of the bread and Nutella on the other slice, but I apply thick layers of Nutella to both slices of the bread.”