Caramel's Confections

by Liquid Savage

A Growing Problem

A few months after that day, the Cutie Mark Crusaders were sitting in a booth on the train, on their way to Canterlot.
They’d held a meeting in their treehouse just the day before, because things in Ponyville had definitely changed. And they were certain it wasn’t for the better.

All over town, mares, stallions, fillies and colts were stuffing their faces with anything and everything from Caramel’s Confections, which had grown so powerful that its influence was spreading into other local businesses. Sweet Apple Acres sold a lot of its harvested apples to them to make pies and crumbles with, and frighteningly, Sugarcube Corner’s flow of customers was slowing more and more each day.
And everypony hooked on the stuff was blowing up, the town filled with more balloons than one of Pinkie Pie’s parties, which was really saying something. Even Pinkie herself was swelling rounder every day, along with the other Elements of Harmony. Nopony had any idea what was really going on, happily convinced nothing was wrong.

“Girls, nothing’s wrong,” burped Princess Twilight, who had bloated up into a purple sphere of alicorn using her magic to open box after box of treats when the fillies came to her for help. “I’m just on a little snack break!”

With Rarity too busy eating ice cream to even make clothes, Applejack and Big Macintosh constantly having their faces shoved into pie tins, and Rainbow Dash becoming so heavy she fell halfway through the cloud she was lounging on, the Crusaders couldn’t rely on who they were closest to in Ponyville. Everypony was too far gone.

So it was up to them.

They looked around the train, frowning at the other passengers being colourful, wobbling orbs of blubber stuffing themselves with cookies and cupcakes. At least the stallions pulling the train were on a strict diet so they hadn’t been put under the addiction.

“It really looks like it’s just us left,” Sweetie Belle said. She wasn’t afraid of anypony overhearing, since nopony cared about much else than their treats.
Scootaloo bit her lip. “Yeah, it’s like a zombie movie, but the zombies are just really fat ponies who wanna eat candy instead of brains.”
Apple Bloom grunted and rubbed her aching hooves. “I dunno how Applejack bucks so many trees by herself. Well, she can’t now, and doesn’t wanna, and those fancy-dressed ponies workin’ for Caramel Crumble needed apples.”
“Don’t worry, Crusaders,” said Sweetie Belle, “if anypony can save Ponyville, it’s Princess Celestia and Luna. They’ll know what to do.”
“Yeah,” Scootaloo agreed with a nod. “They’re really strong too, so they’ll be able to resist whatever’s making ponies sugar-crazed.”
“And once everypony’s back to normal,” added Apple Bloom, “then we can go face Caramel Crumble about all this!”

But once the three got off he train at the Canterlot station, they realized their plan would not be so cut and dry.

As they rushed up the main street toward the castle, every single unicorn around them ranged from ‘slightly chubby’ to ‘morbidly obese’, waddling and wobbling along with boxes of Caramel’s Confections in their magical grips. There was even a sign pointed to another store on Restaurant Row.

“They’re here too?!” Apple Bloom gasped.
Sweetie Belle’s eyes widened with despair. “How could she spread her business so quickly in just a few months?”
“Don’t sweat it, girls,” Scootaloo said, carrying on her gallop toward the castle, “the Princesses will know what to do about this! Especially if they know Caramel’s store is here too!”

The sight of plump castle guards straining their armour didn’t help boost the fillies’ confidence as they raced into the castle unopposed. In fact, it seemed all the castle staff were under the same affliction. They just hoped the Princesses were no different.

They burst through the doors to the throne room. “Princess Celestia! Princess Luna! We-!”

They were interrupted by a pair of wet belches from the other side of the room. Their jaws dropped.

A pair of enormous, round, fold-covered globs of blubber, one white and one dark blue, squished together where the Princesses normally sat, taking up so much of the podium that their flab spilled over and almost reached the ground below. The magically waving manes on each globular head confirmed that they were indeed Princesses Celestia and Luna, albeit trapped inside rolls and rolls of adipose. The two each had a large box of what looked like large, triple-cream doughnuts, using their magic to cram as much of each treat into their soft muzzles. All over the floor around the thrones were boxes of Caramel’s Confections, either neatly stacked and ready to be eaten or carelessly tossed into a heap of empties.

“Oh, hello girls,” mumbled Celestia, licking her lips of sugar. “My apologies, my sister and I were just enjoying a lovely snack.”
“Oh no,” Sweetie Belle groaned, “she got you too?!”
“You mean Caramel Crumble?” asked Luna, letting out another burp before continuing. “Yes, she came to our castle asking if we would allow her to sell her treats in Canterlot. I never understood why my sister enjoyed these so much, but she quickly showed me that her sweet tooth most definitely paid off.”
“Listen,” Scootaloo said, stepping forward, “Caramel Crumble’s putting something in those desserts. We dunno what it is yet, just that it makes ponies get so hooked on the stuff that they’ll keep buying more!”
“That’s why y’all are the size of barns like everypony else!” Apple Bloom blurted out, then covered her mouth with wide eyes. “Uh, no offense.”

The alicorns halted their feasting and looked at each other. The Crusaders looked hopeful; maybe they were going to snap out of their trance and do something about this?

Their hopes were dashed once more, by the sisters chortling to each other, sending their gelatinous frames bouncing and wobbling.

“Oh girls,” Celestia chuckled, her double chin jiggling as she spoke, “there’s nothing wrong with a little indulging from time to time. We can still perform our duties.”
“If there were a problem, we would have already taken care of it,” Luna pointed out, cramming a jam doughnut into her mouth. “Perhaps you three are hungry from a long journey on the train? You are more than welcome to join us.”

The three looked at the stack of unopened boxes. Apple Bloom and Scootaloo looked at each other.
“Ah am pretty peckish,” admitted the earth pony.
Scootaloo nodded and started a slow walk toward the treats. “Me too.”
“No!” Sweetie Belle quickly used her magic to yank her friends back over, dragging them out toward the hallway. “Um, we don’t want to take up more of your time, you look busy! We’ll see you some other time!”

“What the hay was that about, Sweetie Belle?” Apple Bloom asked, pouting as she walked alongside her friends back to the train station.
“Do you wanna turn out like that?” asked Sweetie, pointing to a blob of a mare struggling to get her hooves on the ground with how her belly squished between her legs.
“Well, no,” she admitted, “but why not find out what the big deal is?”
Scootaloo nodded. “Besides, Princess Luna had a point. She and Celestia would know if this was a problem and already taken care of it. And the sun and moon haven’t been out of whack.”
“That doesn’t make it okay for everypony in Equestria to turn into flabby water balloons!” squeaked the unicorn filly. “We’re the only ponies not affected, so we gotta shut down Caramel’s Confections ourselves.”
Apple Bloom groaned as her stomach let out a pleading growl. “Ah still feel like a timberwolf in a chicken coop, though.”
“We can go to Sugarcube Corner then,” suggested Sweetie Belle. “They’re still holding out against Caramel.”
“Yeah,” agreed Scootaloo, “and the Cakes’ll be glad to have some more business coming in.”

It was agreed; a snack stop at Sugarcube Corner, then a plan to take down Caramel Crumble.

In Ponyville, Caramel Crumble sat in her office, reading a parchment of sales figures. A dark smirk distorted her plump face. A stallion in a sharp suit sat across from her desk.
“As you can see,” he said, “profits have skyrocketed ever since the secret buyout of Sugarcube Corner. We have every business dealing in candy and desserts under the Caramel’s Confections name.”
“Wonderful,” the mare said, chuckling into her hoof. “I’ve been thinking about that Hay Burger in the town. We can’t buy them out, but maybe we can convince them to put our treats on the menu. Some lovely milkshakes and the like.”
The stallion nodded. “I’ll see what I can do. They’ll no doubt agree to a partnership if it puts more bits in both our coffers.”

Both ponies’ ears pricked up as they heard voices from the storefront.

“Probably some more ‘hungry’ customers,” snickered the mare, raising from her plush seat. “I’ll be back in a moment.

Caramel’s round body bounced and swayed through the door, into the kitchen area. The bakers she hired were proving to be quite loyal, though the masks around their noses and mouths helped. There would be no licking the bowls in her kitchen, that’s for sure.

She walked out to the shop area, behind the counter, and was rather pleased at the sight greeting her. A trio of familiar fillies, all sporting barrel-shaped bodies and large flanks, their chubby cheeks dimpled from eager grins and pupils dilated with desperation.

“If it isn’t my favourite salesfillies,” she giggled. “What’ll it be, girls?”