Rainbow bagels took off almost overnight, invading social media with their colorful swirls and funfetti icing, lines of people engulfing the Brooklyn sidewalk outside the shop.
The Bagel Store in Williamsburg, prides itself at being the original rainbow bagel. Demands for the whimsical bagels, reminiscent of playdough swirls, were so overwhelming that the store had to create a separate website dedicated solely to the colorful treats, with an email waitlist for bagel orders.
When the rainbow bagel first blew up on social media in 2016, lines wrapped around the block, people waiting for hours just to get their hands on the colorful rounds of bread, to be able to post a picture on social media.
“I remember I came here last year and stood in line for about 40 minutes until I gave up,” said Daniel Lopez, who decided to come back to The Bagel Store for another chance at a taste of the swirly delight. “I keep seeing the bagels on social media still, even after a year. I’m just curious to see how they taste, to taste the rainbow,” he said with a chuckle.
The Bagel Store owner Scott Rossillo has been making the bagels for over 20 years, but the colorful creations only went viral after a video was posted on the Facebook page of Insider Food, a website related to all things food, showing the process of making the beauties.
The video showed just how much work goes into making a Rainbow Bagel, requiring double the work, despite the plain bagel taste. The process involves dyeing the dough with neon food coloring, separating the differently colored dough into piles, layering the colors on top of each other, and then combining them into one multicolored string to be rolled into bagels.
The store’s most famous bagel is the rainbow bagel with confetti cream cheese, a dessert-like treat, the one that spread like wildfire all over the internet. Though the lines aren’t as crazy as they were when the bagels first went viral, crowds still gather to this day.
“Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are busy, not like it used to be but still, I’m surprised,” said Sandro de Jesus, a 31-year-old worker at The Bagel Store. “When it’s warmer, the line is around the store, but today it’s not so busy because of the cold.” It was 23 degrees that Saturday.
Now, even when the place does get crowded, The Bagel Store is better equipped at dealing with the lines, a smooth sailing ship.
Lourdese Marzigliano, a 23-year-old New Yorker, saw a video of the bagels on Facebook and wanted to try them for herself, surprised she didn’t have to wait long. “For being a small place with not a lot of room to have an organized line, they actually have a pretty good system in place, I only waited around 10 minutes” she said. “Even if I had to wait long, it was so worth it! Not only for the awesome picture, but it was pretty amazing tasting,” she said between bites.
Though the rise of the rainbow bagel depicts the power of social media in creating and spreading trends like wildfire, not everyone is as willing to wait in line just for a taste of the rainbow.
Joy, a 42-year-old mother, is used to seeing crowds lined up by the store. “I walk by here often and sometimes the lines are crazy,” she said. “I wouldn’t wait like that, it’s all the young kids. They just want to post pictures.”
The power of social media trends is undeniable, a medium to spread images and information quicker than you can blink. The store now does catering, and offers custom event bagel art. The store’s Instagram is also pretty popular, with over 90,000 followers.
Speaking to the Gothamist, Francine LaBarbera, The Bagel Store’s marketing coordinator, says they’ve sold 800 of the bagels every day for weeks. “We got slammed like you cannot believe,” she added.