CENTRALIA, IL—Sweet, creamy death swept through this small Illinois town Monday, when nine 300,000-gallon storage vats violently burst at the local Snak-Tyme pudding factory, burying hundreds of residents in a rich, smooth tidal wave of horrifying pudding goodness.
The death toll from the lip-smacking tragedy currently stands at 350 and is expected to rise.
"After hearing a series of loud explosions, I looked out the window and saw the great taste of Snak-Tyme engulfing everything in its path," said barber Bill Cangelosi, who barely escaped with his life when his shop was devastated by a lethal dollop of butterscotch.
Within an hour, the downtown area was transformed into a scrumptious hell on earth, as millions of gallons of chocolate, vanilla and butterscotch pudding slowly seeped through the streets.
"I've lost everything," said Anne Dubrow, whose ground-floor apartment was filled to the ceiling with a heapin' helpin' of Snak-Tyme. "My home has been completely destroyed by this tragic, tragic snack treat."
"What can I do now?" Dubrow asked. "Everything I own is Delectably Choco-Licious™."
An amateur video of the disaster shot from a downtown third-floor window shows vehicles and bodies being engulfed by the slow-moving dessert wave, helplessly sucked into thick whirlpools formed by creamy torrents of pudding surging from opposite directions. As many as 100 people are believed to have perished at the bottom of these deadly Dubl-Flav'r Snak-Swirls™.
The pudding-factory disaster is believed to have started when a computer monitoring vat pressure malfunctioned. "We have a new guy on the vat station and, apparently, he failed to detect the error," said plant foreman Earl Krause. "Sadly, this tiny lapse in concentration spelled flavorful, mouth-watering doom for hundreds of innocent people."
Rescue dogs, which have been brought in to locate victims buried beneath the pudding, are proving ineffective, said emergency-response-team leader Warren Kuehn.
"Even our best dogs can only go in there for 10 or 15 minutes before emerging completely full and requiring a nap of some three or four hours," Kuehn said. "That's some good pudding."
Survivors whose homes were buried under the massive snackslide have been relocated to a nearby high-school gymnasium. Local food banks are aggressively soliciting donations of napkins and ice-cold milk.
Monday's accident is the nation's worst snacktastrophe since 1993, when an E.L. Fudgeplosion at the Keebler Nuclear Facility in Easton, PA, caused a chocolate meltdown in the plant's core reactor, killing 827 and exposing thousands more to the uncommonly good taste of Keebler cookies.
"This mess will likely take months to fully clean up," said Centralia mayor Gordon Engers. "Because Snak-Tyme is made just like Grandma used to, with real cane sugar and no new-fangled sweeteners, it's going to get stuck to everything."
"Snak-Tyme normally brings a smile to everyone's face," Engers said. "But today, this delicious pudding has brought nothing but human misery."