The Discontinued Panera Bagel Everyone Wants Back

Since its inception in 1987, Panera Bread has been blessing its customers' bellies with a smorgasbord of yummy menu offerings, from its iconic soup-filled sourdough bread bowls to its popular you-pick-two combos. But, like many a fast-casual restaurant chain, the good bakery-café giveth and taketh away. Panera Bread has discontinued many menu items over the years, leaving stalwart regulars to mourn the passing of fan favorites like the chipotle chicken panini, red velvet crinkle cookie, and yes, even the beloved French toast bagel.

Featuring a distinctive swirl of cinnamon maple flavors, the French toast bagel was arguably a cut above your average sweet bagel. Nixed from the menu, many diehard bagel lovers refused to let the freshly baked breakfast staple retreat quietly into the abyss. Some took to the web to air their grievances. "It sucks so much because they are literally the only bagels I like," one Reddit user wrote on a subreddit for Panera Bread. 

Panera customers have watched many of the chain's specialty bagels come and go over the years, from the jalapeño cheddar bagel to the short-lived peanut butter banana bagel — the latter of which some surmised was cut due to cross-contamination allergy concerns. But, apparently, patrons were forced to bid adieu to the company's French toast bagel for an entirely different reason: the coronavirus pandemic.

Panera says au revoir to the french toast bagel

Due to the subsequent impacts of COVID-19 on the food industry, such as lockdown measures and operations restrictions, many restaurants had to reduce their menu offerings to stay profitable. Panera was not immune to these scalebacks. In addition to the French toast bagel, the company axed its maple bacon scrambled egg wrap, Tuscan chicken sandwich, and a flaky, cream cheese-filled pastry called the Cheese Brittany (per CNBC), among others. 

Still, more menu cuts lay on the horizon. Amid rumors the bakery-café would continue streamlining its offerings throughout 2023, the company revealed it would be testing an even more simplified menu, slashing around 50 items in select stores that same year. A variety of bagel options were reportedly on the chopping block, including blueberry, chocolate chip, and sesame. However, they seem to still be available depending on your location — at least for the time being.

Will the discontinued bagel make a comeback?

Four years after getting the boot, the French toast bagel is still nowhere to be found on Panera's menu, despite some customers holding out hope that it would one day make a gallant return. Whether the swirled bagel makes a comeback or not remains to be seen.

In the meantime, fans can satisfy their morning bagel fix on similar offerings, such as the eatery's cinnamon crunch bagel, which features vanilla-flavored chips and a crunchy cinnamon topping, or the cinnamon swirl bagel, a chewy classic loaded with cinnamon-flavored chips, brown sugar, and raisins. For an even sweeter bite, the chocolate chip bagel is a great pick, especially when slathered in the chain's honey walnut cream cheese.

For an option that's more true to form, French toast bagels can be purchased at other establishments, such as Einstein Bros Bagels, which carries its own fresh-baked version that's finished with a crunchy cinnamon streusel topping. However, if you can't find any available in your area, simply roll up your sleeves, throw on an apron, and opt to make the chewy bagels from scratch instead.