After a few Starbucks outlets in New York City tested demand for tiny cream cheese–stuffed bagel balls this summer, the bite-size dough globes from Bantam Bagels have rolled into about 515 stores in the city, as well as a some locations in Philadelphia and Indianapolis.
To grow sales, the giant coffee chain's strategy includes increasing sales of foods like sandwiches, pastries, and meal boxes, which are now about 19% of sales. There are more than 12,000 Starbucks locations in the U.S. Bantam hopes to expand into more of them yet.
For a better sense of scale, this is how big a bagel ball is. Bantam Bagel co-founder Nick Oleksak has said the idea came to him in a dream.
Bantam, a business started in 2013 with a small storefront in Manhattan's West Village, also sells its products online and has a catering business that delivers to offices and events like weddings.
The market for bagel balls is bigger than you might think. Bantam saw a bump in sales after being featured on Shark Tank in January. So far this year, it has sold more than 2 million bagel balls, with sales of over $2.1 million. As it develops corporate partnerships, Bantam also began offering its bagel balls on Delta flights out of LaGuardia Airport about a month ago.
At about 100 calories each, they're a snacker's delight, but they're not cheap. Each bagel ball costs $1.75 at Starbucks — nearly the cost of a normal-size bagel — or you can get two balls for $2.95. That's one way to control how many you eat.
Starbucks offers three flavors of bagel balls: french toast, everything, and classic.
Each are filled with different cream cheese flavors. French toast gets a buttery, maple cream cheese; everything has veggie cream cheese; and classic gets plain old cream cheese.
They're like the doughnut holes of bagels, although some bagel purists may protest such bold deviations from the cherished norm.
Venessa Wong is a deputy business editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Venessa Wong at email@example.com.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.