Is There a Secret Nutella Black Market?

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For some (tasty) reason, thieves in the German town of Bad Hersfeld spirited away some 5.5 tons of the chocolate-hazelnut spread over the weekend. But if you can trick one of the top schools in the United States into paying $2,500 per week for Nutella, perhaps everyone should get in the chocolate topping business. "The gooey loot is worth an estimated 16,000 euros ($20,710)," reports the AP, detailing how, exactly, one walks into a trailer and runs away with some 11,000 pounds of flavored topping — if it's not an Ocean's 11-style inside job, that is. To put that in perspective, the two most popular Nutella jar sizes are 26.5 ounces and 13 ounces (1.6 lbs. or 0.8 pounds, respectively), meaning that the thieves might have had to walk/drive from the crime scene with about 6,875 units (of the big jars) or 13,750 jars (of the smaller size) in their back seat. (Yes, there are industrial sizes of Nutella, but that's neither here nor there.) 

Second question: What do you do with that much Nutella? First off, if there's a major heist of 10,000 pounds of toast/waffles/bananas in the coming days, then that probably points to someone — or a group of people — with serious Nutella addictions. And there's always the story popping up that Nutella will get banned or taxed, which might scare people into hoarding the chocolate spread like a precious metal ... we guess?

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But obviously, the important question here is whether or not there is, in fact, a black market for Nutella. MSN Money facetiously balked at the idea last month, but they did admit that Nutella thieves are primarily drawn to the allure of stealing chocolatey gooeyness because it's so expensive: 

The problem is that Nutella is both tasty and somewhat costly. Even at discount chains like Wal-Mart, it fetches more than $6 per 26.5-ounce container, compared to $4 for a similar size container of Jif peanut butter. In France, citizens collectively flipped out when it was suggested that palm oil -- one of Nutella's key ingredients -- be taxed at 300%, according to France 24.

That report was based on a claim that Columbia University where the university was spending $5,000 per week because of students stealing the spread (the AP report does not say if the German heist is the work of Columbia kids). Columbia, to its credit, denied this stating that the figure was more like $2,500:

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.

The smart kids at Columbia did the math, and still found out that number was too high — and that the university was still overpaying for its Nutella consumption to the tune of $6,000 more per month, and $43,200 more per year. Which could make cushy American colleges or students one of the prime targets for Nutella re-sale. Nutella dealers, we're totally onto you.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.