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Bagel Variety Economics

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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?

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  1. 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.

    1. 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

        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

          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

            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

              I love the jalapeno bagels for sandwiches too.

              1. re: tcamp

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

                1. re: coll

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

            2. re: jrvedivici

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

              1. re: Veggo

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

                1. re: jrvedivici

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

                  1. re: PotatoHouse

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

                    1. re: Veggo

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

                      1. re: jrvedivici

                        Friggin' protestants. And I am one.

                        1. re: jrvedivici

                          Despite anatomical possibilites, I remember a President saying:

                          "I did not have sex with that bagel."

                            1. re: Steve

                              The infamous cream cheese stained blue dress.

                2. 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

                    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

                      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

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

                        1. re: tcamp

                          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

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

                            http://www.urbanspoon.com/cities/7-wa...

                    2. re: Siegal

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

                      1. re: Siegal

                        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

                          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

                            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

                            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

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

                              1. re: masha

                                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

                                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. 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

                                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

                                  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

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

                                    1. re: bagelman01

                                      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

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

                                        1. re: bagelman01

                                          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

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

                                            1. re: mucho gordo

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

                                              1. re: bagelman01

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

                                    2. re: bagelman01

                                      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

                                        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

                                          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.
                                          http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/200...

                                        2. re: bagelman01

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

                                          1. re: ohmyyum

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

                                        3. Up with poppyseed, down with blueberry!

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: treb

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

                                            1. 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

                                                How are the bagels in Aroostook County?

                                                1. re: PotatoHouse

                                                  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. 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

                                                    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.