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Bagel Variety Economics

Steve Jul 29, 2013 05:47 AM

Whether it is in a supermarket or dedicated bagel shop, I can't help but notice this situation:

At the end of the day (or sometimes much earlier) they are out of sesame, poppyseed onion, garlic, or plain bagels. The only bagels left are asiago, jalapeño, blueberry, whole wheat, or.... well, you get the ideas.

I leave without buying bagels.

So how does this work? Why wouldn't the store make more of the former and less of the latter? What am I missing?

  1. Monica Jul 30, 2013 11:44 AM

    It's like at a clothing or shoes shop. All the popular sizes are always sold out...i always think, why don't theymake more of size 2, 4 and 6??

    1 Reply
    1. re: Monica
      bagelman01 Jul 30, 2013 01:19 PM

      Monica, this is off subject, but from 27 years in the reatail clothing business, and years as a manufacturer/importer.
      Adult clothing standard pack is 3-6-6-3 S-M-L-XL. which is why small and xl often sell out first. This is made based on the average sizes of American consumers. For years there were also avalable to retailers 'border packs' of 4-6-6-2 which were packed based on the smaller size of Mexicans on the southwest border. When I had a store ion an area that had an influx of Laotians, I ordered border packs so as not to be stuck with the larger sizes.

      That said, over time, the American consumers have become larger-too much super sizing at the fat food joints <VBG> and many iotems don't come in small any more, but M-L-XL-XXL.

      But there si the oither extreme. MRS B and I are large people. The B daughters wear either size zero or 2. They eat far differently than we do.

      An independent bagel bakery can decide what varieties and how many to make. A chain/franchise may be required to have many varieties each day and the dough makes x amount. Best bet, call your order in early in the day for pickup later.

    2. PotatoHouse Jul 29, 2013 03:04 PM

      I introduced Mrs. Potato to peanut butter and honey. She looked at me like I was crazy and claimed that I made it up. I made it for her and it became her favorite! I couldn't believe that she had never heard of it before. But of course, I had never heard of a fluffernutter until I moved up to northern Maine.

      2 Replies
      1. re: PotatoHouse
        Veggo Jul 29, 2013 03:14 PM

        How are the bagels in Aroostook County?

        1. re: PotatoHouse
          coll Jul 29, 2013 03:19 PM

          Is that a bagel flavor, or a topping? Because my Dad always made us peanut butter and jelly (or cream cheese and jelly) on toasted bagels with Campbells tomato soup when Mom wasn't cooking, and we loved that meal.

        2. t
          treb Jul 29, 2013 09:52 AM

          Up with poppyseed, down with blueberry!

          2 Replies
          1. re: treb
            ferret Jul 29, 2013 01:14 PM

            Blueberry is for muffins. And maple/strawberry/pineapple/etc. do not belong in cream cheese.

            1. re: treb
              bagelman01 Jul 29, 2013 01:56 PM


            2. bagelman01 Jul 29, 2013 07:00 AM

              It's all about supply and demand and PREDICTING buying patterns. But if a bagel shop customarily sells 8 dozen sesame on July Tuesdays, but a customer comes in at 10 AM and buys 6 doazen for an office meeting, the prediction is off.
              The shop may not have a baker on duty all day to make more. It is easy to make more of varieties that are a standard plain bagel with a topping-seeds, etc. A store can split a batch, but when it's a 'special' dough with ingredients mixed in then it's not worth the risk of making a whole batch after lunch and getting stuck with leftovers.

              Back when I started in the business, we made bagels by hand and they were plain, sesame, poppy or salt (from plain dough), and the special doughs of pumpernickel, egg or rye. And a rye bagel is NOT a plain bagel with caraway seed on top, it is made with rye flour and had the seeds mixed throughout. We generally didn't make the special doughs on weekdays, only weekend traffic warranted the extra variety and work.
              Today, many bagel shops buy frozen bagels, that they proof and bake in the store, merely adding toppings. BUT if it's not made from fresh dough and biled before baking, IMHO, it's not worth eating.

              As for asiago, jalapeno, blueberry/cranberry, etc. These frou-frou ideas don't belong in a bagel shop A bagel is an ethnoc food that had beenbastardized by American food merchants.

              14 Replies
              1. re: bagelman01
                Siegal Jul 29, 2013 07:06 AM

                Yea. You need to bake throughout the day. But if someone buys all the sesame at 10 am I'm not turning the oven on just for that. I'll wait till a few other bagels gets low unless its getting late. Otherwise you will be baking constantly which is impractical.

                Alot of places buy bagels also so if they are out they are out...not a good sign

                1. re: Siegal
                  bagelman01 Jul 29, 2013 08:04 AM

                  Your store runs on a different model than most of the bagel stiore in this area. Here, they tend to bake throughout the day and don't shut down the ovens and boiling kettles. If a store is open from 6am-6pm, they might not bake after 4pm.

                  As for not baking all day being impractical, that depends on your volume. Even the chains such as Bruegger's adn Einstein bake throughout the day.

                  1. re: bagelman01
                    JMF Jul 29, 2013 09:02 AM

                    In my area the bagel stores, and some of the supermarkets, bake almost all day as well.

                    1. re: bagelman01
                      mucho gordo Jul 29, 2013 01:01 PM

                      You have Einstein / Noah's back there? They have a few retail outlets here as well as providing Costco with prepacks (just a few of the varieties).

                      1. re: mucho gordo
                        bagelman01 Jul 29, 2013 01:56 PM

                        The closest to me is in Fairfield (about 8 miles). Costco bakes their own bagels up here.

                        1. re: bagelman01
                          mucho gordo Jul 29, 2013 02:40 PM

                          I'm surprised they don't bake their own here, too. I also wish they would bake their own jumbo burger/hot dog buns.

                          1. re: bagelman01
                            mucho gordo Jul 30, 2013 03:57 PM

                            Does your Einstein's charge .50 cents per bagel to slice them for you?

                            1. re: mucho gordo
                              bagelman01 Jul 30, 2013 05:25 PM

                              never asked, but the one near my parents old place in Boynton Beach did

                              1. re: bagelman01
                                mucho gordo Jul 30, 2013 07:00 PM

                                Outrageous. You could buy an extra half dozen bagels for what they charge to run 12 of them through their slicer.

                    2. re: bagelman01
                      masha Jul 29, 2013 09:41 AM

                      Hear, hear on the objection to frou-frou bagels! Could not agree more. I'd add garlic and onion to the list of traditional varieties (made with plain dough) that are acceptable in a legitimate bagel shop.

                      1. re: bagelman01
                        mucho gordo Jul 29, 2013 11:04 AM

                        I guess you could say that anything other than water or egg bagels are frou-frou but, they sure taste good. Sourdough, wheat, pumpernickel, asiago, potato, cheddar or jalapeno are all great and, at least, worth a try. I do draw the line at any berry, pumpkin, choc. chip, cinnamon. Premium priced bagels are usually pizza or bacon topped.

                        1. re: mucho gordo
                          coll Jul 29, 2013 03:17 PM

                          I felt like cinnamon raisin has been around all my life, so I googled and found the NY times backed me up on that one. Here is more info, even though I know Steve is not looking for it.

                        2. re: bagelman01
                          ohmyyum Jul 29, 2013 12:10 PM

                          If it's not made by hand from fresh dough and boiled before baking.... can it even be considered a bagel?

                          1. re: ohmyyum
                            bagelman01 Jul 29, 2013 01:56 PM

                            not a good one...................................

                        3. s
                          Siegal Jul 29, 2013 06:48 AM

                          I have a bagel store. It's hard to keep 30 different types of bagels stocked all day especially when randomly a customer comes in and buys a dozen garlic or whatever (which is usually whats sold all day).
                          It takes 30 minutes to heat up the oven, bagels need to rise when you take them out of the walk in, seed them, etc So by the time the bagels are ready to go in another two different types are gone and you have to wait till you need more bagels.

                          Also at the end of the day if you have bagels left from prior bakings it's a waste of money to bake dozens more just so you have a few of every type.

                          If a customer wants more variety I tell them to come early. People are too spoiled now with crap fast food that is just frozen and dropped in a fryer so everything is always available. They expect a place that painstakingly makes everything by hand from scratch to do the same. That's impossible unless you want to eat chain restaurant food.

                          13 Replies
                          1. re: Siegal
                            tcamp Jul 29, 2013 06:56 AM

                            Sure, at 2 PM you're not going to make a new batch. But I think Steve's point was that it seems bagel makers are ignoring pretty consistent buying patterns if the "oddball" flavors are ALWAYS left at the end of the day and the more standard flavors are ALWAYS sold out by mid-day. There will always be unusual events that wipe out a particular flavor or two but not every day.

                            1. re: tcamp
                              bagelman01 Jul 29, 2013 08:00 AM

                              In our area, the bagel stores get a premium price for the oddball flavors. As I posted earlier, these are a special dough, not just a topping on a plain bagel. The store may not sell a full batch (one dough's worth) of the oddball varieties every day, but the upcharge may make the varieties profitable nonetheless.

                              1. re: bagelman01
                                tcamp Jul 29, 2013 08:45 AM

                                Makes sense although not typical in my area, AFAIK. All bagels are priced the same.

                                1. re: tcamp
                                  bagelman01 Jul 29, 2013 08:56 AM

                                  If you have a chain such as Panera or Bruegger's in your area, take a look and you'll see that the asiago, etc are an extra 5 orv10 cents each.
                                  Independents have followed suit in this area.

                                  1. re: bagelman01
                                    tcamp Jul 29, 2013 09:03 AM

                                    I guess my local place is on the lagging edge, thank goodness. They don't even seem to have a website.


                            2. re: Siegal
                              coll Jul 29, 2013 06:57 AM

                              Glad there's still a few of you guys around!

                              1. re: Siegal
                                Steve Jul 29, 2013 09:20 AM

                                Thanks for your insight. It's the kind of response I was looking for.... and yet.....

                                I am wondering if I've noticed a pattern that isn't really there? Maybe I am just noticing when they are out of my personal choice? And maybe I don't know notice when they have the ones I want?

                                Still, I seem to be disappointed an awful lot if I go late, and that's when they seem to be left with a good amount of the 'oddball' flavors. That's when I, and presumably others, come face to face with the asiago/jalapeno predicament.

                                1. re: Steve
                                  jrvedivici Jul 29, 2013 09:24 AM

                                  A.) Bagels hold rather well, so go early get your bagel of choice and just consume later!

                                  B.) Broaden your bagel horizons and give the jalapeno a try! I truly do enjoy them.

                                  C.) Give yourself a break from they analysis it's bagel sales not crop circles!

                                  1. re: jrvedivici
                                    Steve Jul 29, 2013 01:15 PM

                                    I have tried them all. They are not my preferred choice, but the purpose of starting this thread was not really to list preferences, just wondering how it works out that the leftover bagels always seem to be the same type.

                                    And I actually know more about crop circles than bagel sales!

                                  2. re: Steve
                                    masha Jul 29, 2013 09:38 AM

                                    Steve - I do think there is a tendency to notice when a store is out of what you want to buy, but not when they have your preferences in stock, and not others'. In a non-food context, I can recall commenting to friends how annoying it is that stores always seem to run out of my (small) size of clothing and have tons left of the large sizes, only to be told by my tall friends that in fact just the opposite occurs.

                                    1. re: masha
                                      Steve Jul 29, 2013 01:17 PM

                                      Wow, maybe there is something to it. I only see Small sizes on the sale rack.

                                      1. re: masha
                                        Chowrin Jul 29, 2013 01:41 PM

                                        This is because stores/fashion folks refuse to size properly. They could have half the sizes, and fit most people. Of course, then you'd have "U" for normal folks...

                                      2. re: Steve
                                        tcamp Jul 29, 2013 12:20 PM

                                        No, I think you are right about a pattern. My kids take bagel sandwiches during the school year and I often stop on the way home to pick up a few. Invariably, Safeway is out of poppy and sesame are all gone and of course those are the preferred flavors.

                                    2. jrvedivici Jul 29, 2013 06:11 AM

                                      It was part of the Bagel Anti-Discrimination Reform act of 1967. Per congress it was illegal to produce fewer less favorable bagels simply because of the public's lack of interest for them. All Bagels are to be created equal regardless of the general populations liking of them.

                                      Thus you find the more popular versions sell early and the less favorable versions languish.

                                      OR they just don't gauge what they bake very well. (I don't find this to be the case at most bagel shops though, perhaps super markets etc.)

                                      17 Replies
                                      1. re: jrvedivici
                                        coll Jul 29, 2013 06:18 AM

                                        I have never heard or asiago or jalapeno, hopefully you're exaggerating for effect? I sure would never buy those flavors myself. The weirdest flavor I go for is cinnamon raisin.

                                        1. re: coll
                                          jrvedivici Jul 29, 2013 06:25 AM

                                          I've actually had both and I enjoy a bagel sandwich on a jalapeno bagel. Not my taste for a morning breakfast bagel but they are tasty!

                                          1. re: jrvedivici
                                            coll Jul 29, 2013 06:37 AM

                                            I guess with the right ingredients it could be interesting. Most places I go have plain, whole wheat, poppy, sesame, everything and cinnamon raisin. Oh and I almost forgot, pumpernickel. Then again I don't get out much! The good news is, I don't remember any of those flavors ever being out of stock.

                                            1. re: jrvedivici
                                              tcamp Jul 29, 2013 06:54 AM

                                              I love the jalapeno bagels for sandwiches too.

                                              1. re: tcamp
                                                coll Jul 29, 2013 06:57 AM

                                                Ok you talked me into it. If I ever see a jalapeno bagel I will grab a couple!

                                                1. re: coll
                                                  mucho gordo Jul 29, 2013 10:49 AM

                                                  Try the asiago too, if you see it. I've also enjoyed sourdough bagels.

                                            2. re: coll
                                              PotatoHouse Jul 29, 2013 02:53 PM

                                              Seen them.

                                            3. re: jrvedivici
                                              Veggo Jul 29, 2013 06:55 AM

                                              And later, the No Bagel Left Behind act in 2001.

                                              1. re: Veggo
                                                jrvedivici Jul 29, 2013 07:33 AM

                                                That was after "It takes a village to bake a bagel" correct?

                                                1. re: jrvedivici
                                                  PotatoHouse Jul 29, 2013 02:54 PM

                                                  But before Obama's "You didn't build this bagel" fiasco.

                                                  1. re: PotatoHouse
                                                    Veggo Jul 29, 2013 03:01 PM

                                                    But after Reagan's famous "tear down that bagel" to Berliners and the world.

                                                    1. re: Veggo
                                                      jrvedivici Jul 29, 2013 05:53 PM

                                                      After that was the first Bush's "Read my lips, no new bagels".

                                                      1. re: jrvedivici
                                                        Veggo Jul 29, 2013 07:00 PM

                                                        Friggin' protestants. And I am one.

                                                        1. re: jrvedivici
                                                          Steve Jul 29, 2013 07:05 PM

                                                          Despite anatomical possibilites, I remember a President saying:

                                                          "I did not have sex with that bagel."

                                                          1. re: Steve
                                                            Veggo Jul 29, 2013 07:21 PM

                                                            Nice jewish girl, too.

                                                            1. re: Veggo
                                                              Steve Jul 30, 2013 11:55 AM

                                                              Yes, but she ate treyf.

                                                            2. re: Steve
                                                              jrvedivici Jul 29, 2013 07:28 PM

                                                              The infamous cream cheese stained blue dress.

                                                2. m
                                                  Maximilien Jul 29, 2013 06:05 AM

                                                  Me think that they've simply run out of normal bagels because they sold more than they are used to that day, and sold less of the other sorts.

                                                  And it would not be economically safe to make some more, because they have a minimum size batch and know they will not sell that last batch and loose money.

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