In December of 2016, Donutology owner Andrew Cameron decided to boldly go where few had gone before. “I have always wanted to send something into space,” he says. The shop sent a sprinkled donut into space using a helium weather balloon, with a thick protective layer of silicon to make it space-proof. The donut went up 97,000 feet in the air and ended up traveling 253 miles, from Marceline, Missouri, to eastern Illinois. It landed in a rural area, a quarter of a mile from a prison, in the middle of a farm field. The entire journey was captured on a GoPro camera fixed to a plexiglass wing, the product of an idea courtesy of marketing agency Sandbox.
The video has become a social media sensation and is truly an incredible sight to behold. It has even motivated others to send food into space. Donutology now houses the “space donut” in a display case in the middle of the shop.
In other parts of the country, expansion is happening for a variety of reasons. Magnolia Bakery has risen from a quiet first location in New York’s West Village to a franchise with locations in New York City, Los Angeles,
Chicago, Honolulu, Mexico City, Seoul, Tokyo, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Beirut, Kuwait City and Doha. Now, the bakery has announced that it will bring a new location to Boston later this year. it will open a stall at Boston’s Faneuil Hall in the late summer or fall. The new bakery will feature Magnolia’s signature cupcakes, as well as favorites such as banana pudding, cheesecake, pies, muffins, cakes, cookies, brownies, and much more.
Thanks to the cupcake boom and its exposure on television shows, Magnolia Bakery was able to expand beyond New York to its global brand customers enjoy. It offers online ordering, and nationwide shipping of its bakery goods.
Bagels are another product making a resurgence, thanks to innovators like husband and wife Nick and Elyse Oleksak, the owners and founders of Bantam Bagels, and recognized entrepreneurs from ABC’s Shark Tank.
Starting in October 2016, Bantam Bagels expanded distribution to more than 600 grocery stores, allowing customers to access an authentic bite of NYC at home. Bantam Bagels are available in Kroger stores in Ohio and Michigan, QFC and Fred Meyer in the Pacific Northwest, Safeway stores in California, the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii, and in a number of independent grocery stores in New York, Connecticut and New England.
“Everyone knows New Yorkers love their bagels and that is a large part of why we decided to start our business here,” says Nick Oleksak. “We knew it would be no small task changing the way New Yorkers consumed their beloved bagel, but everyone knows that if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere,” adds Elyse.
Bantam Bagels’ newest products are catching on quickly as the latest successful hybrid pastries in the industry. Pie-flavored mini bagels were a huge hit as a holiday snack for many in New York City. While only available in one location, the company’s flagship store on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village, they made their mark with a wide variety of interesting flavors.
Among those are apple pie, pumpkin pie, and banana cream pie. The apple pie flavor is on a cinnamon-nutmeg bagel, stuffed with apple spice cream cheese and sprinkled with baked apple crisp. The pumpkin pie flavor is on a pumpkin spice bagel, stuffed with pumpkin pie-spiced cream cheese and topped with crumbled graham crackers and powdered sugar. The banana cream flavor is on a cinnamon-nutmeg bagel, stuffed with banana cream filling and drizzled with caramel.
This food mashup might wind up being Bantam Bagels’ latest success, following successful releases of cinnamon bun, French toast, and cookies and milk-flavored stuffed bagels.
The New York City-based bagel bakery, whose roots began in a small retail space in Manhattan’s charming West Village, can now be found in more than 8,000 new points of distribution, including Starbucks, QVC, Fred Meyer, and many Kroger locations. For those seeking home delivery, Bantam Bagels will send products straight to customers via their newly refurbished online ordering system.
After testing Bantam Bagels in select Starbucks locations, Bantam Bagels last fall announced that the product will be available in more than 7,000 company-operated Starbucks locations across the United States. “Starbucks is committed to supporting local entrepreneurs, and has supported our efforts to grow and develop our brand. We are proud to provide customers with a unique, quality product in Starbucks locations,” says co-owner Elyse Oleksak.
Other retail bakery owners are experiencing similar success by watching trends it the food world carefully and responding with multidimensional marketing strategies.
“Paying attention to trends and what’s happening in the food world is what helps us be in the know,” says Danette Kuoch, manager of California Donuts, which opened 35 years ago as a tiny donut shop but catapulted into fame based on its eye-catching, photo-worthy creations. “We have now become a late-night dessert spot in Los Angeles. Our donuts are unique. We are inventors, not followers.”
California Donuts boasts a whopping 463,000 followers on Instagram. They are equally active on Snapchat. “First of all, having a product that attracts the eyes of others is important to building relationships on Instagram and with Snapchatters,” Kuoch says, adding a warning about when and when not to post. “If you have great content to post, the more you post, the better. But if you don’t have great content, it’s better not to post at all.”