Nutella: Delicious chocolate-hazelnut spread or dangerous gateway drug to a life of crime? The usually peaceful Nutella community descended into chaos last week after a viral news story revealed rampant Nutella theft at Columbia University.
Student blog The Spectator reported massive Nutella thefts from campus dining halls, describing students as swiping over 100 pounds of Nutella every day. This Nutella craze, The Spectator alleged, was costing Columbia up to $5,000 a week.
When contacted, Columbia was quick to set the record straight. Their actual Nutella expenses were much lower, “only about $2,500” in a week of high demand. (Phew, only $2,500, as much as a used Pontiac. We were worried they were spending too much.)
$2.5k or not, Columbia’s Nutella Crisis worried us. Could a similar crime be happening right under our noses at NYU? Are people stealing our Nutella? How hard is it to steal Nutella? And wait—if stealing Nutella is easy, why aren’t we doing it?*
Multiple NYU cafeterias including Third North, Hayden, and Downstein serve Nutella as part of their all-you-can-eat setup. In theory, then, for the price of a meal swipe, one should be able to empty an entire Nutella jar into a to-go box and leave.
But this is messy and time-consuming. A more efficient means of Nutella-appropriation would be simply to exit with the cafeteria’s economy-sized jar. After all, we paid for an all-you-can eat buffet, and we plan on eating all this Nutella. And, extending this logic, we should also be able to carry out other large-ticket items like loaves of bread, whole pizzas, and bottles upon bottles of Srichacha sauce.
No rules expressly forbid taking an entire Nutella jar. When we consulted with dining hall staff, however, we received sobering news.
“Most likely they will try to bar you from this facility,” a worker answered when we asked what would happen if we tried leaving with Third North’s Nutella supply.
Undeterred, we continued our investigation into Nutella-thieving tactics, and concluded that the easiest way to learn the mindset of Nutella thief would be to steal Nutella ourselves. For Journalism.
Hayden is the ideal venue for Nutella theft. Third North’s Nutella supply is inconsistent (sometimes disappearing with the bagels in the afternoon) and Downstein’s streamlined redesign renders any covert maneuverings too conspicuous. Upon arriving at Hayden’s bagel-and-Nutella station, scope the area for points of weakness. Note the positions of worker behind the counter and the girl lingering by the toaster oven. Act natural.
When the coast is clear, cover the Nutella jar with a large plate and lift it from the counter. Hide between large friends as you shuttle it back to a table in the corner. Wrap your new jar in napkins, then lovingly place it in a Duane Reade bag.
Leave the cafeteria casual, confident, and a slightly worse person than you were when you entered.
But hey, you have Nutella now. We knew it wasn’t that difficult, Columbia.
*Note: NYU Local does not condone Nutella theft.