NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Reports that Columbia University students were stealing $5,000 worth of Nutella a week are greatly exaggerated, according to the university.
This past Tuesday, the Columbia Spectator daily student newspaper reported that since the university Dining Services department began offering Nutella in the Ferris Booth Commons dining hall, students had been consuming the hazelnut spread to the tune of 100 pounds per day.
The student paper also reported that many students were stealing Nutella from the dining hall, contributing to the rapid losses. Many of the students who took Nutella from the dining hall ended up letting it go to waste, the student paper reported.
Quoting student representative Peter Bailinson, the Spectator said Dining Services executive director Vicki Dunn had told Columbia College Student Council representatives that the total amount of money spent on Nutella amounted to $5,000 the first week it was offered back in February.
At that rate, the university would be spending $250,000 per year on the spread, the student newspaper reported.
The story on Nutella was picked up by numerous other publications, including the New York Times.
But Columbia said in a news release on Thursday that none of it was true. A university news item emphasized that the very idea of $5,000 worth of Nutella disappearing every week sounded ridiculous – going so far as to date its release “not April 1.”
“The mundane fact, according to the University’s Division of Dining Services, is that the weekly cost of the Nutella supply is actually less than 10 percent of the amount originally reported on a student blog and quickly picked up by other media,” the release said.
Columbia said demand was extremely high in the first three or four days Nutella was offered at campus dining halls – but only would have topped out at $2,500 a week if it had continued. The value of the Nutella consumed on campus soon dropped to a mere $450 a week, and has since dropped even farther because “the media attention to Nutella-gate has cut down on the amount people have been taking in recent days,” the university said.
The university news release made the whole matter into a joke: “‘I mean, who can resist a sweet story involving hazelnut spread?’ asked Columbia’s chief digital officer Sree Sreenivasan, a noted Nutella nut and social media maven. ‘I’ve already retweeted this thing in several time zones myself since I assumed it to be true just based on the Nutella consumption in my house.’ (Editor’s note: Sree didn’t say any of this… but he easily could have.)”
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