Business & Investment

Hand over cream cheese and rocks: Americans have devoured 648 million bagels in restaurants over the past year

For generations, Jewish families have enjoyed the spread of bagels with cream cheese, smoked or hardened salmon (aka Rocks) and other accessories.

However, bagels can now be consumed by Americans of all faiths, including those who live outside Jewish-centric markets such as New York. Bread can be found not only in traditional bagel shops, but also in fast food stores and supermarket aisles. From bakeries to restaurants, new bagel businesses are open everywhere from Connecticut to Colorado.

“I think bagels these days are considered more American comfort food than Jewish food,” said Jay Rushin, CEO of H & H Bagels, a New York-based bagel chain with nearly 50 years of history. Says. H & H recently announced that it will take advantage of recent growth to launch a national franchise program, doubling sales since 2014.

Indeed, there is plenty of data showing that America is experiencing something like a bagel boom. Grocery sales of fresh bagels (brands such as Thomas’and Sara Lee) increased 11% to $ 1.2 billion in the 12 months to early August, according to market researcher IRI.

Meanwhile, at the restaurant, Americans ordered 648 million bagels in the 12 months to July, according to another market researcher, The NPD Group. According to the NPD, this represents an 8% year-on-year increase, but admits that the 2019-20 restaurant sales fell sharply due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

An assortment of bagels from H & H Bagels, a New York company that has launched a national franchise program.

Courtesy H & H bagels

Tim Grzebinski, an IRI analyst specializing in baked goods, says the pandemic probably helped accelerate the bagel boom as it was a time when Americans turned to comforting something. And bagels, a carb-rich and chewy treat, naturally fit the bill.

Grzebinski also states that it’s no wonder that Americans accept ingredients that were once primarily defined as “ethnic” dishes. He points out that the bagel story is the story of many mainstream items.

“Look at the tortillas,” says Grzebinski, who says Mexican wraps are more popular than hot dog bread and burger rolls.

Indeed, bagel makers say their customers far exceed the traditional Jewish and New York-connected population.

Audrey Gebhardt said he thought that when he started his bagel business in Nederland, Colorado’s ski town, he thought it would be very appealing to New York’s transplants in the area. But she found that almost everyone crave for good bagels, at least at the local farmers markets she sells.

“Last weekend we made 25 dozen and sold out in an hour and a half,” Gebhardt said. Gebhardt will soon open a physical store in Decent Bagel.

Gebhardt is true to tradition. That is, before baking the bagels, prepare the bagels in the traditional way of boiling the dough. This is a way to help give the bread a distinctive chewy texture. She also offers classic types of bagels such as plain, salt, sesame and poppies.

However, some food industry experts and consultants say the bagel boom was inspired by people who are willing to go out of the box to make bagels and spread in a myriad of different flavors. This definitely expands the appeal of bread. They also sometimes avoid boiling methodologies and make softer bagels that may convince people to find standard varieties that are a bit too dense for their tastes.

Bagel and burrito combo

Leading the way in this regard is the Einstein Bros. Bagels chain, which has more than 700 locations. The menu is all about innovation, with bagel varieties ranging from Asiago cheese to apple cinnamon. It also sells many bagel sandwiches (there are new bacon, keso and egg sandwiches) and features bagel litho, like the bagel and burrito hybrid.

“It was really popular,” said Alex Rodriguez, Einstein Marketing Director at Bagelrito, which was a limited-time offer.

Stephen The Goal, an adjunct professor at Columbia Business School, who specializes in the restaurant industry, said bagels also benefit from the fact that they are very easy to adapt in terms of flavor and style.

“When you need neutral, you are neutral, and when you need a perspective, you have a perspective,” he said.

See Bagels: The bagel and burrito hybrid is offered by Einstein Bros. Bagels, a chain with over 700 locations.

Einstein Brothers Bagels

Flavors like cinnamon raisins date back to the 1960s

Of course, bagel innovation is nothing new. Professor Jacob Remes of New York University, who studied the history of modern America and studied the evolution of bagels, said that bagels with non-traditional flavors such as onions and cinnamon raisins date back to the 1960s and the bagel market expanded.

He said the transition to sweeter varieties made particular sense because the bagels with a clear hole in the middle resembled donuts. “So there is an expectation that they will taste a little like donuts,” he said.

Remes admits that he is a traditionalist and only likes tasty and chewy bagels. And certainly, much of the bagel world has blamed some of the attempts to make bagels that don’t look very bagel-like.

But don’t count Sam Silberman among them.He is the founder of Brooklyn Bagel Fest We will return to the second edition in October in New York City. Silberman states that the continued evolution of bagels is a good thing and welcomes bagel producers of all kinds to his event.

“I’m all about pushing the boundaries. The bagel bridge isn’t too far away,” he said.

Hand over cream cheese and rocks: Americans have devoured 648 million bagels in restaurants over the past year Hand over cream cheese and rocks: Americans have devoured 648 million bagels in restaurants over the past year

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