"Have you seen the rainbow bagel?" he asked me, rhetorically. I have Instagram installed on my phone—so of course the answer was yes. (And if you read Business Insider or Gothamist or People or Today.com, maybe you have seen them, too.)
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"Do the colors make you happy when you look at them?" he wondered. "That’s my point.”
For Rossillo, who's been making bagels for over twenty-five years, designing the dizzyingly colorful type began as a form of personal therapy and developed into an art.
He's made plenty of beautiful bagels over the decades, and has even sold them from time to time, but it wasn't until 2015 that the bagels blew up on the internet. Rossillo attributes the recent success to "great timing, friends, and social media." When model Adriana Lima told the world she was "STARTING [HER] DAY WITH RAINBOW BAGELS," a casual 86,500 fans liked her photo. Rosillo was making these bagels 15 years ago in Williamsburg, but social media networks weren't nearly as powerful (or even in existence).
In conversations that Rossillo has with journalists and with friends about the rainbow bagel's skyrocketing success, he alludes to the theory Malcom Gladwell outlines in his first book, The Tipping Point. "There’s been a lot of hard work along the way, a lot of hours away from my kids and family," Rossillo remembers. "People told me 'Stop what you’re doing'; 'You're crazy'; 'No one will ever buy those things from you.' But I kept doing it because it makes me happy."
But now the rainbow bagel has reached its magic moment, has crossed the threshold into wild popularity, Rossillo's business has taken off. On the weekends (when the crowds really get crazy), they clear the furniture to make an impromptu waiting room.
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What's next for the rainbow bagel phenomenon? Rossillo hopes for "eventual globalization." It's a "win-win situation, for The Bagel Store and for the world."
“I have 6 children” says Rossillo. "I want to make them happy and I want to make people around the country and the world happy." The actual bagels themselves are improving, too. The dyes, made with no added chemicals or preservatives, they're Rossillo's trade secret. "They've gotten grander and brighter over the years" and while the bagels look beautiful (even self-deprecating Rossillo admits this), "there are more areas for growth."
And, because you are wondering, yes, The Bagel Store does have nationwide delivery.
A (former) student of English, a lover of raisins, a user of comma splices. My spirit animal is an eggplant. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream. For that, I'm sorry.