Eat at Pony Joe's

by SaddlesoapOpera

Chapter 1: Eat at Pony Joe's


By Saddlesoap Opera

Pinkie Pie ducked down to survey the lower shelf of delicacies as she continued her order.

“…And that apple fritter, and one of those puffy little cream puffs…Ooh! And that fancy éclair!”

The yellow Unicorn stallion behind the counter nodded and magicked a total of six different pastries onto a large plate. Pinkie popped back up and turned to face her five friends.

“Okay…what’s everypony else having?”

After a shared giggle and sigh Pinkie’s companions ordered snacks of their own, and the group soon gathered around one of the tables in Pony Joe’s for the first time since the night of the Grand Galloping Gala.

“Not that I mind being so close to the Royal Palace,” said Rarity after taking a dainty bite of her dark chocolate wafer, “but I can’t help but wonder why we’re eating here again.” She magicked up a napkin and lightly dabbed her lips. “After all, Canterlot boasts some positively sumptuous cuisine, but here we are in a common donut shop!”

A moment after speaking, Rarity realized that the proprietor of said shop was still at the counter only a few paces behind her. “…No offense,” she quickly added with a nervous chuckle.

“None taken,” said Pony Joe, magicking up a cloth to polish the countertop.

“We’re here because I need to get ready for the Aerial Marathon!” said Rainbow Dash. “I’ll need all the energy I can get to fly all the way from here to Cloudsdale.” The blue Pegasus snapped up one of the sizable pile of glazed donuts on her plate. “Beffidev,” she added around a mouthful of cruller, “whaff wrom wiff donuff?”

“Yah! I LUFF donuff!” agreed Pinkie cheerily, her whipped-cream-smeared mouth similarly crammed full of dessert. She waved a front hoof at Pony Joe and then gestured at her empty plate.

The demure white Unicorn leaned back to dodge the crumbs escaping Dash and Pinkie’s mouths. “Nothing’s wrong, as such.” She sighed. “It’s just that I expected something more…elegant…from a meal in the Unicorn capital of Equestria.” She glanced over her shoulder at Pony Joe once more. “No offense.”

“Mm-hm.” Said Pony Joe.

“Don’t be so sure of that,” said Twilight Sparkle after swallowing a sensible bite of old-fashioned plain. “When I was still in school, I spent a lot of time here while I was cramming for exams. There’s nothing like some sugary snacks to help a studious filly stay awake!”

“It’s true!” said Pony Joe as he trotted over to levitate away Pinkie’s plate and replace it with a fresh tray of donuts. “Twilight ‘ere was one o’ my best customers back in thuh day.”

“Izzat so?” asked Applejack, wiping her mouth with a foreleg after chomping up half a slice of apple pie. “Shewt, I never woulda had you pegged fer a donut conna-soor!” She chuckled. “I mean, ya don’t really seem like th’type.”

“What do you mean?” replied Twilight. She raised an eyebrow.

Applejack shrugged. “Well, it’s just that yer a mite bit…” She trailed off.

“…Bookish?” suggested Rarity.

“…Buttoned-down?” said Rainbow Dash.

“…Boring?” added Fluttershy. The yellow Pegasus cringed after speaking. “Um…b-but in a good way…”

“HEY!” Twilight exclaimed. “I might live in a library, but that doesn’t mean I’m some dull school-mare!” she turned to the donut shop’s main entrance, where Miss Cheerilee was trotting past leading another school field trip. “No offense.”

“None taken!” said the burgundy Earth Pony.

“We academic types have excellent sugar tolerance, I’ll have you know!” Twilight continued. “I bet I could go donut-for-donut with anypony here!”

A competitive gleam shone in Rainbow Dash’s maroon eyes. “Even…Pinkie?”

“Absolutely!” Twilight said firmly, and stomped a front hoof on the table.

The Ponies turned their collective gaze on Pinkie, who was busily shoving her second plate of pastries into her gaping mouth.

Rainbow Dash narrowed her eyes and smiled a wicked smile. “…Prove it.”

“Whoa there, Sugarcube,” said Applejack, waving a front hoof in warning, “that don’t sound like such a good idea – Pinkie bein’ Pinkie, an’ all.”

Pinkie swallowed half a dozen donuts in one massive gulp. “I sure am!” she piped up once her throat cleared. “…Wait, what are we talking about?”

“You’re gonna have a donut-eating contest with Twilight,” said Rainbow Dash.

“Woo! That sounds like super-duper fun!” replied Pinkie, clopping her front hooves together happily.

“Hold on…!” Twilight interjected. “I didn’t say I was–”

Rarity cut her off: “Oh, but Twilight – you must! You have to defend the honour of your alma equa!” She wrapped a front leg around Twilight’s neck and pulled her close. Stars shone in the white Unicorn’s eyes. “This is a matter of…Unicorn Pride!” Rarity turned her head skyward with stern patriotism, and a backdrop of the Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns coat of arms briefly appeared behind them.

“Oh my…!” said Fluttershy softly.

“Uni-whut now?” asked Applejack dryly.

Swept up in the moment and her own nostalgia, Twilight broke free from Rarity’s grasp and planted her front hooves firmly on the table. “…I’ll do it!”

• • • • •

Twilight looked around at the massive crowd of Ponies surrounding the table at which she and Pinkie Pie were standing.

“Where did they all come from?” she asked.

Rainbow Dash hovered over to the table. “Until the Aerial Marathon starts, all these Ponies had nothin’ to watch – so I brought ‘em here!” She giggled excitedly. “This is gonna be great!

Dash flew up almost to the donut shop’s ceiling, put her front hooves to her lips and shrilly whistled. “Okay, listen up everypony!” she shouted. “This is your standard donut-eating contest! Whoever eats the most donuts without leaving the table or having a rainbow yawn–” Rarity let out a horrified ee-ee-eew! at the metaphor. “–is the winner!”

“Good luck, Twilight!” said Pinkie Pie amicably.

“Same to you!” replied Twilight with the same goodwill.

Rarity draped a towel around Twilight’s neck and massaged her shoulders with her front hooves. “Hmph!” she scoffed. “The nerve of her! Trying to psych you out like that!”

Twilight frowned. “I’m not sure she was try–”

“You’re going down!” sneered Rainbow Dash from above and behind her pink Earth Pony friend. “Pinkie’s gonna school you but good!”

“Naahh,” said Pinkie airily, “I just wanna have fu–”

“Oh, IT. IS. ON!” said Rarity with fierce intensity.

Pony Joe trotted over to the table and set down a pair of levitating platters piled high with frosted, sprinkled, cream-filled sugary delights. The crowd – and the two contestants – let out an awestruck ooooh!

The Unicorn stallion raised a front hoof. “On ya marks…get set…” He swung the hoof downward. “GO!”

The crowd went wild as Pinkie smashed her face into the piled pastries while Twilight magicked up donuts two at a time and gobbled them up as quickly as she could.

Pinkie finished her platter first, but Twilight was only a donut or two behind as Pony Joe brought over the second round of donuts and two cups of water.

“Yaaaay!” cheered Fluttershy semi-audibly from her spot near the front of the crowd. “You can do it!”

Applejack raised an eyebrow at the yellow Pegasus next to her. “Uhh…which one are ya cheerin’ for, exactly?”

Fluttershy shrank back with a slight blush and nervously twiddled her front hooves. “Oh! I…um…can’t it be both?”

As the stack of empty platters grew and grew, neither Pinkie nor Twilight showed any signs of slowing down. Twilight maintained a steady levitate-bite-chew-swallow rhythm, while Pinkie mostly continued to eat using only her face.

Rainbow Dash flapped over to Rarity and alighted next to her. She nudged the Unicorn with an elbow. “Okay, I’ll admit Twilight’s doing pretty good, but she’s still no Pinkie Pie.”

Rarity gave the Pegasus a frowning sidelong glance. “Yes, she is indeed doing quite well.” Rarity batted at one of her coiling purple locks with a front hoof. “Pinkie may be eating a bit faster, but Twilight is the clear winner in grace and technique.”

Rainbow Dash stared at Rarity incredulously. “You…you know there’s no style points in an eating contest, right?”

“There aren’t?”

Rainbow Dash shook her head.

Rarity reared up on her hind legs, cupped her front hooves around her mouth and bellowed: “COME ON, TWILIGHT! DEVOUR THOSE DONUTS FASTER! EXCELSIOR!”

You can do this, Twilight! Twilight thought to herself as she squeezed a second honey-dip past her lips. This is just like back in third year! She gulped down the three donuts distending her cheeks and took a welcome sip of water. Just pretend you’re getting ready for the Thamaturgical Principles and Practices final!

Mmmmm! Pinkie thought to herself as she ran her frighteningly-long tongue across the sprinkle- and cream-speckled platter. Yummy!

“Boy, howdy!” said Applejack as she adjusted her Stetson, “Ah was worried ‘bout Twilight tryin’ to face down Pinkie, but that filly’s makin’ quite the showin’, doncha think?”

Fluttershy craned her neck in an effort to get a better look at the tabletop. “Those aren’t really ‘bear-claws’…are they?” Her cyan eyes shone with worry. “Those poor bears!”

As Pony Joe brought the seventh round, he eyed the participants warily.

Both Twilight Sparkle and Pinkie Pie were smeared with cream, frosting and sprinkles to varying degrees, and the bellies of both Ponies were bulging alarmingly.

“You two good to keep this goin’?” asked Pony Joe.

“You betcha!” said Pinkie happily. “I’m just getting warmed up!”

“Forty-eight scintillas in a spark,” muttered Twilight. “One hundred and ninety-two scintillas in a twinkle.” Her right eyelid twitched.

“Ohhh-kay,” said Pony Joe. He set down the seventh pair of platters.

What had started as a simple time-killer before the Aerial Marathon had gradually captured the crowd’s imagination. Ponies were now hooting and hollering, cheering and stomping applause.

Despite Pinkie’s eagerness, both she and Twilight were starting to slow down. Pinkie only gulped down three donuts with her first bite, and the donuts levitating before Twilight’s face jiggled and wavered.

“Don’t stop now, Pinks!” cheered Rainbow Dash.

“Be strong, Twilight!” shouted Rarity. “For Canterlot!

“Woohoo!” said Fluttershy softly.

Suddenly, as Pinkie pulled a chocolate-dip with sprinkles off her platter, a powdered-sugared cream puff dislodged from the bottom of the donut and tumbled off the table. Pinkie focused her eyes on the falling pastry like a hawk tracking a fleeing mouse. She turned and dived for the delicacy, her mouth open wide.

“NOO-OOO-OO!” cried Rainbow Dash, the moment seeming to stretch out in slow motion.

Pinkie snapped up the cream puff and tumbled into a sitting position. “Mmm! Creamy!” she said as she chewed.

“Pinkie left the table!” said Pony Joe. “We have a winner – Twilight Sparkle!”

The crowd exploded into raucous cheers and applause, with many chanting TWI-LIGHT! TWI-LIGHT!

Rainbow Dash hovered over to her Earth Pony friend and landed next to her. “You were totally robbed, Pinkie!” she said.

“Awww, it’s okay!” said Pinkie cheerily. “Like I said, I just wanted to have fun! After all, you–” Pinkie paused; her eyes widened.

All at once, she started shaking. And then shuddering. And then quaking. She let out a quivering “Woo-wooo-wooo-woooooo!” as she bounced up and down faster than a jackhammer. A few moments later, she was still once more.

Rainbow Dash’s head tilted sideways. “Uhh…Pinkie?”

Pinkie Pie waved a dismissive front hoof. “Oh, don’t worry – that was just the sugar rush. I get over them pretty quickly these days.”

Applejack trotted over, her brows furrowing in concern. “Justa second…if you got that fired up that quickly, then what abo–” A bright reddish-purple flash interrupted Applejack in midsentence.

Twilight Sparkle was galloping around the donut shop in tight circles, her horn and eyes blazing bright. Every few seconds she would vanish in a flare of magic only to reappear elsewhere, still running full-tilt.


The crowd began to flee the donut shop in a panic.

Rarity waved a front hoof at her fellow Unicorn. “Twilight!” she shouted over the commotion. “Do try to calm down! You’re making a scene!”

“I CAN COUNT TO BOOOOOOKS!” Twilight shouted back as she galloped past.

Pony Joe took cover behind the counter. “Hoo boy,” he muttered ruefully, “this is just like when she was in third year.”

Twilight began randomly firing off blasts of magical energy from her horn. Every object she struck turned into a thick textbook. “BOOOOOOKS!”

Twilight’s five friends dodged falling books and took cover behind one of the larger newly-created piles of tomes.

“Ah knew this was a bad idea,” said Applejack, “Ah just knew it!”

A crash from the front doors announced the arrival of a pair of golden-armoured Royal Guards. The grey Pegasus stallions surveyed the chaos dispassionately.

“Mm-hmm,” said one guard. “Looks like a confirmed 2-14.”

“Lost sock?” asked the other.

“Hyperactive Unicorn,” clarified the first guard. “…Lost sock is a 2-13.”

“Oh. Right.”

One guard rummaged in his saddlebags and produced a large, dark-grey wool blanket. The Pegasi gripped it in their jaws and spread it wide.

As Twilight galloped past, the guards tossed the blanket over her.

Rarity peeked over the edge of the book pile. “Well, really,” she said in annoyance, “I hardly think that’s going to be enough to–”

Twilight’s pace slowed to a languid trot. “Study…gottaah sssudy…” she slurred. “Books….boooo…” she yawned softly and then flopped down onto the tiled floor. Soon the soft sounds of snoring escaped from the blanket’s confines.

“Please disperse,” said the second guard. “Nothing to see here.” The first guard bundled up the blanket-covered unicorn and took to the air.

“Oh, dear,” said Fluttershy, “Is she going to be all right?”

“Nothing a night in the Sugar Tank won’t fix,” said the second guard. “We’ll send a Unicorn detail to de-bookify the area.”

Pinkie Pie perked up. “Oooh! The Sugar Tank?”

Pony Joe firmly pressed a front hoof on Pinkie’s shoulder. “It’s not watcha think.”

• • • • •

Twilight Sparkle adjusted the icepack on her head and groaned morosely. The thin cot in the stone-brick cell was a far cry from her soft bed in the Library, and her raging headache did little to improve her comfort.

She magicked up a quill and a scroll, and began writing:

Dear Princess Celestia,
Yesterday I learned that letting your friends goad you into doing
something that you probably shouldn’t is a bad idea–
even if you may not think so at the time.

A streak of rainbow and sky-blue appeared in the barred window of Twilight’s cell door. “HEY TWILIGHT!” shouted Rainbow Dash excitedly, “I WON FIRST PLACE IN THE MARATHON! ISN’T THAT AWESOME?”

The Pegasus’ voice echoed off the cramped cell’s walls. Twilight covered her head with her front legs and whimpered.

“…Oh,” said Dash, lowering her voice, “Sorry! Also, the guards say you’re free to go in another hour.”

“That’s good to hear,” said Twilight hoarsely. She put quill to paper once more and wrote on:

In addition, today I learned that I can’t eat donuts like I did when I was a foal…
…without really, really paying for it.

Your faithful student,
Twilight Sparkle

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