Wait is this not how you eat Nutella….? Weird…

By now you’ve probably heard about Columbia’s issues with Nutella. As campus comes to terms with the fact that we’re all apparently hoarders, the Nutella story continues to grow. Our chocolatey addiction and its exorbitant cost has received a surprising amount of attention, causing us at Bwog to wonder: how much of this is really our fault? Is there no cheaper way to fund our love? With some handy back-of-the-envelope calculations, Bwog attempts to get to the bottom of the Nutella crisis.

Dining has finally released a statement to Spec about Nutellagate:

NUTELLA-GATE EXPOSED: It’s a Smear! Says Columbia

Columbia University officials today denied press reports claiming that campus dining halls were running rivers of nut-brown ink to the tune of $5,000 per week in allegedly pilfered Nutella.

Columbia Dining Services emphasized the mundane fact that the ongoing weekly cost of Nutella supply is actually less than one-tenth the purported amount originally reported on a student blog and quickly picked up by other media. It is true that in the first 3-4 days after Nutella was recently added to the dining hall selections, demand was indeed extraordinarily high, with students enjoying a large amount in that initial short period. However, the actual cost was only about $2,500, and quickly went down to $450 per week for dining halls that serve some 3,600 students, seven days a week at three locations. Ironically the media attention to Nutella-gate has cut down on the amount people have been taking in recent days.

But those numbers don’t tell us anything about the per-ounce cost of the European magic spread. We’ll have to use Dining’s original numbers—$5,000 per week for 100 pounds per day—to determine if Dining Services is being screwed over, thus screwing us and our rising tuition. In any case, we want to showcase the one time we did math this semester.

Though Bwog thinks any price is a good price to pay for the only thing that has ever helped Bwog get through a break-up, whoever’s paying your tuition might disagree. Dining chalks up the exorbitant price to thieving students, which yes, makes sense, but let’s take a short dive into Dining’s original numbers:

  • 100 pounds per day = 11,200 ounces per week
  • $5,000/11,200 = $0.44 per ounce

Only forty-four cents per ounce to get your fix? That seems about right, right? Wrong. Bwog called up the first food distributor we could find in the tri-state area that carries Nutella in bulk. The nice lady on the phone told us they charge $3.45 for each the 13 oz. jars they sell in bulk. Using that price then:

  • $3.45/13 = $0.26 per ounce

Using that per ounce price, Columbia’s Nutella habit, while still costly, seems far less explosive:

  • Remember, 100 pounds per day = 11,200 ounces per week
  • So, 11,200 x .26 = 2,912

$2,912 per week is what we would be paying if Dining used our food distributor, which, again, we found in less than five minutes of Googling. That’s nearly half of what Dining is paying for its Nutella per week now–$6,000 less per month, and $43,200 less per year.

There are three possible reasons why Dining seems to be over-paying:

  1. Dining gave Spec inaccurate numbers.
  2. Spec reported the number inaccurately.
  3. Dining is actually over-paying.

Vicki Dunn is an excellent person and there’s no reason she would lie to Spec. As much as we would like to think that Spec misreported the number (kidding, love you guys!), we’ve heard they have some pretty good fact checkers.  While the new statement from Dining announces that costs have gone down as weeks progressed, this reflects a change in demand, not in price.

That leave us with the last, more terrifying option: Dining is getting absolutely fleeced by whoever provides it with condiments like Nutella. Because trust us, it definitely doesn’t stop with Nutella. If you want to look at why Columbia tuition is rising at a steady rate, maybe Dining Services isn’t a bad place to start.

Going (hazel)nuts via Shutterstock