Why Starbucks Stopped Selling Bantam Bagels

Bantam Bagels may be known for its appearance on "Shark Tank", but these cream cheese-stuff miniature bagels were a hit before then, and were even sold at Starbucks at one time. Elyse and Nick Oleksaks, the husband-and-wife team behind the company, made their pitch to garner investment on the popular TV show in 2015.  Two months later, the New York Daily News ranked Bantam Bagels as the third-best bagel in the city, and in 2014, they showed up on the list of Oprah's Favorite Things in "O, The Oprah Magazine."

After an investment from Lori Greiner on "Shark Tank," business boomed for a while, but today, it's possible that some of us haven't heard of Bantam Bagels at all. This is partly because Starbucks had stopped selling them by 2021. The stuffed bagels were sold in the varieties of Classic (plain cream cheese), Everybody's Favorite (everything seasoning with veggie cream cheese), and French Toast (maple-flavored cream cheese). In 2016, the snacks launched at all at Starbucks locations in the U.S., only to be unceremoniously pulled from the menu.

The culprit behind Bantam Bagels' vanishing act was, perhaps unsurprisingly, COVID-19. Like countless other businesses affected by the worldwide pandemic, Starbucks stores experienced lower foot traffic and supply chain issues, which resulted in some big menu changes, including the elimination of Bantam Bagels. However, fans haven't forgotten these dearly departed snacks — in fact, the Bantam cult following is still floating on.

Devastated fans campaigned to bring Bantam Bagels back

The exit of Bantam Bagels from Starbucks was met with dismay. Not only had Oprah been a fan, but patrons across the country enjoyed the bagel bites as a breakfast or snack that fit easily into busy schedules, and was far more portable (and less messy) than a halved bagel with cream cheese. One college student even started a Change.org petition in January of 2021 to bring Bantam back to Starbucks. As of 2024, the petition has almost 1,500 signatures, but hasn't broken its goal, for reasons that will be made clear shortly.

In the wake of the bagels' disappearance, plenty of patrons took to Reddit to find out if Bantam Bagels were truly gone from Starbucks. While some users in one thread claimed that the bagels weren't all that popular, others proclaimed their love for them and their great sadness at the discontinuation. And while many grocery stores also sold frozen versions of Bantam Bagels, the general consensus was that the store-bought type wasn't nearly as tasty as the ones sold at Starbucks. 

In another thread, a commenter mentioned that Dunkin' also sells miniature, cream cheese-stuffed bagels, but expressed an opinion that they aren't as good as Bantam Bagels. And while you may think fans would be somewhat content with buying the bagels at grocery stores, this is also (very sadly) no longer an option.

Today, you can't get Bantam Bagels anywhere

Even though COVID-19 made a huge impact on Bantam Bagels' popularity, you might think the company could continue to profit off of its grocery store products. Unfortunately, fans of Bantam Bagels were met with even worse news in 2022, when the small snacks became unavailable altogether. In 2018, T. Marzetti Co. (owned by Lancaster Colony Corp.) purchased Bantam Bagels for $34 million from the Oleksaks. Just a few years later, Lancaster announced that Bantam Bagels would no longer be a part of its portfolio by June of 2022.

Lancaster Colony's President and Chief Executive Officer David A. Ciesinki expressed enthusiasm about the Bantam acquisition in 2018, saying the product line was a great leeway for the company to get into frozen breakfast products. Ironically, the company fully shut down Bantam Bagels just shy of a decade after it was founded. However, fans of these bite-size snacks still remember them fondly. If you look up Bantam Bagels and scroll past the many news stories about its departure, as well as various grocery websites where you could once order them, you can still find social media posts from fans who haven't given up hope that this innovative breakfast treat might return someday.