On Saturday, Sept. 9, Gables Bagels had its highest grossing day in sales since it opened in August 2022. On Sunday, Sept. 10, they beat that sales record. I know this because I work at Gables.
Meanwhile, two blocks away, Bloomington Bagel Company had a line out the door and was swamped all day long. So were its three other locations across Bloomington.
Now, I may not have the exact numbers, but if my calculations are correct, that is a lot of bagels being consumed in one day.
This weekend was no exception to any other weekend in Bloomington, either. Every weekend, students and locals alike line up outside one of the ever-growing bagel companies and wait in line for a bagel. Some will simply order a bagel with cream cheese while others will order a complex bagel breakfast sandwich, but either way they are willing to wait in the 45-minute-long line to order. Then they will wait another 30 minutes to get their bagel.
This is a phenomenon that has blown my mind ever since arriving in Bloomington back in 2021.
When Gables Bagels opened, the logical thought was that BBC had competition. You would think if Gables was undeniably better that BBC would begin to slow down in business, but that has not happened. In fact, their business has not slowed down even a little as far as I’ve seen.
New York is known for its bagels, that’s no secret. So is New Jersey. So, of course, having a New York bagel shop in town is going to bring in a whole new set of customers. However, this isn’t New York or New Jersey. This is Indiana. The Midwest. We are by all means not known for our bagels (corn maybe. But not bagels).
It’s also no secret that IU has a large population of New Yorkers and New Jersey students. Yet, it doesn’t feel like that small minority of IU’s population would make such a massive difference on the entire culture of Bloomington.
Yet, hundreds of bagels are consumed daily and there is zero explanation for it. Why is the bagel culture of Bloomington so prominent? Why can I get into an argument of which bagel shop is better at least once a week?
Bloomington seems to be this odd ball in the center of the country. There's such a unique culture that occurs in between the cornfields and the never-ending highways that has been around for centuries.
With an entire street dedicated to international cuisine and a basketball culture like few others, Bloomington has created its own oasis. That’s a huge reason so many people come from all over the country to live here.
There is a community that has been created here that is a blend of cultures all over the world. Bagels are simply the newest addition.
The people of Bloomington care about their bagels, and I cannot give you an explanation as to why. We may never know where the bagel craze of Bloomington started or why the movement has overtaken the students, specifically Greek Life, but I think it is time we embrace it.
Gentry Keener (she/her) is a junior studying journalism and political science.