The Man Behind NYC’s Beautiful Rainbow Bagels

 

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When I got to The Bagel Store on Bedford Avenue and descended down its steep stairs, I found Scot Rossillo rolling red, white, and blue swirled vanilla bagels. It was a tribute to France, rolled to a soundtrack of operatic music wavering throughout the space.

“I wasn’t gonna do it,” said Rossillo as he quickly rolled bagels on his work table, “but I got a lot of people prompting me to do it, so I’m doing it.

Rossillo is a larger Jewish-Italian man, a native Brooklynite with an accent to match, complete with earrings, tattoo sleeves, and a genuine spirituality that blends into his work. He is the man behind the rainbow bagel, bagels that have been swirled with vibrant colors that don’t bleed or fade and taste a lot like Fruit Loops and are usually stuffed with Funfetti cream cheese.

If you want one, you have to call the day before to reserve one. These rainbow bagels are a hot commodity, and he only makes limited batches.

“I’m the world’s premier bagel artist!” he exclaimed as he stopped rolling.

Rossillo doesn’t just make rainbows. In addition to the Insta-famous rainbow beauties, he also makes plenty of other flavors.

“I make unique bagels; the crossaint bagel (the cragel) the bagon-egg-and-cheese bagel, French toast bagel, and a host of other hybrids,” said Rossillo.

Among that host of hybrids are even wilder combinations: a mac and cheese bagel, a ramen bagel, a Philly cheesesteak bagel, a taco bagel, and more. In a fridge where the bagels cold proof, he showed me stacks of spinach parmesan bagels, Challah bagels with braids just like the bread, and cotton candy bagels amongst the regulars. He pulled a bacon-egg-and-cheese bagel (with the ingredients incorporated into the bread) off a tray and up to my nose so I could smell the smoky bacon.

“Oh my god, there’s no territory he hasn’t covered,” said his older sister, Michelle Ferro, who works with Rossillo, “you want flavored bagels, I’ve lost count at this point.”

It’s the rainbow bagels that are his most famous. Rossillo got the idea 20 years ago and has been developing them ever since.

“20 years of experiments, 20 years of failures—I wouldn’t say failures, it brought me to here,” said Rossillo. “I always keep on keeping on even though many times people would come to me— ‘you’ll never be able to sell those fucking bagels!’”

Rossillo started making rainbow bagels at a different location a place called Bagel World in Brooklyn Heights. The store, which he partially owned, was opened in 1998. He moved to The Bagel Store two years later in 2000, and sold his portion of Bagel World in 2003. During the first rainbow attempts, the bagels weren’t quite selling. According to Rossillo, it just wasn’t the right time.

“It started this year with gay marriages being equal in America, that was a big month,” said Rossillo, “Then I made a bagel for Jonathan Cheban—he’s Kim Kardashian’s best friend.”

Rossillo has just sent bagels to Tyra Banks and the others at the show FABlife for her, the crew, and most of the audience. Not only that, his bagels have been on the Wendy Williams Show, sent to the New York Mets, and even gone to NYU—he’s working on violet and white swirled bagels for an event for NYU Langone.

The colorful, flavored bagels are a much longer, much more intensive process than the regular plain bagel or even the usual array that might be found at any bagel shop. Rossillo can make around 5,000 regular bagels in the time it takes to make 100 rainbow ones. That’s the reason Rossillo was hesitant to make Cheban’s order, which was a bit last minute. He didn’t want to rush.

“Compared to normal bagels, the process is 10 times, 12 times longer,” said Rossillo, “so this has to be a labor of intense love because it’s not a labor of intense profit.”

Though the bagels are pricier than the standard fare at $3.95, the process implies that they could and should be sold for more. Rossillo insists that the colorful and flavored bagels be handmade in smaller batches, and trusts no one but his assistant Osiel Estobar to make the rainbows.

“Everything’s a small dose. That’s how you keep it the way you want it,” he said, “you start to overgrow, you start to lose the love and care. The value goes out the fucking door.”

He’s worked so long on this, it’s no wonder value is so important to him. Rossillo has sacrificed a lot of his social life (and sometimes even his family life) to craft the colorful bagels.

This might be the reason why he’s so secretive about his work. He didn’t let me photograph the rolling process of the rainbow bagels, though he was unconcerned about the other kinds. He’s keeps his recipes and methods under wraps, citing “technique” as the reason behind a good bagel, a masterful flavor combination, a beautiful swirl of colors. He prefers hand rolling to a machine for a gentler handling of the dough, and doesn’t quite agree with the idea that New York City water is the reason behind a quality bagel. The reasons why his colors don’t run, fade, or turn brown in the oven are completely hush-hush. He keeps himself closed off from the media (excluding social media where he likes Instagram to communicate with the fans) and doesn’t drink or do drugs. He’s completely dedicated to the bagels.

“When I walk on the street, I don’t look like a whole lot, there’s nothing exciting about me,” said Rossillo, “but when I get to the mixer, I get to the color, I get to the thinking, everything just comes, like drawn out of the universe. That’s the best way I can really put it. No one wants to be average.”

“It was personal therapy,” he said, “We all have problems in life. Nobody’s perfect in life. We all need an outlet of sorts. Like I said, I don’t drink, I don’t do drugs, my outlet if my bagel art. Here, I can become anyone I want to be.”

In this, he is secretive too. He mentioned that he once spent 8 hours in jail at age 17 for something “stupid,” and doesn’t find his tattoos have the same meaning that they once did for him.

“I’m not there anymore,” he said, “You should be better when you get older. That should be the goal. It’s not always going to happen, but…”

He trailed off and continued rolling, this time a batch of red-and-white swirled bagels, red velvet in flavor, for Christmas. He prompted me to step in and roll, showing me how to make them even, size them, and then hide the seam so they look neat, all the while offering sympathy when he asked about my (rather hard) week. He talked about how he found hand-spun noodles fascinating, asked me about the food I grew up with, and mused about Depression-era cooking, when anything could be made edible. He talked me through my own bread-baking woes, giving me simple instructions on how to make a starter.

Rossillo’s passion for food comes from early on. He grew up behind a bagel store, smelling them fresh every morning when he woke up. He said his mother was a “lousy cook,” citing his grandfather as a major influence.

“He used to have an old fashioned hot dog cart,” said Rossillo, “Used to help him cut the onions every day in the morning. Hardworking man. Lived ’till he was 86 years old, many people would never dream of that.”

While Rossillo joked about his lack of a formal education, he graduated from the French Culinary Institute‘s International Bread Baking Program and from there he set off to make the bagels that are now making him quite popular. He gets international requests for the rainbows, which he can’t currently supply, though he dreams of eventually doing so when he has the money for it. He wants to be able to put a rainbow bagel in everyone’s hand, though to make that mass quantity of bagels would be difficult considering his small batch approach.

Right now, he’s just thinking about more bagel concepts, such as princess rainbow bagels (inspired by Disney princess dresses), Democrat and Republican bagels for the election, bright solid colored bagels sold as a rainbow set, among many more ideas. He’s constantly looking to improve his rainbow bagels. The main goal is to make people happy with the colors.

“When you look at people’s Instagrams, they’re happy. They’re not faking it,” he said when referencing how many people have taken shots of his bagels, “They’re happy they got it and it’s making their day better. That’s the most important thing.”

[Photos via the author]

Rainbow bagels in Brooklyn

The rainbow bagel is selling out at The Bagel Store in Brooklyn.    NEW YORK (FOX 5 NY)  - The next food craze may be growing in Brooklyn.   The Bagel Store   on Bedford Ave. where lines are sometimes out the door is selling out of its latest creation: the 'rainbow' bagel. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet, the multi-colored, doughy treat is getting lots of attention.  It tastes like cereal and can be slathered with Funfetti-style cream cheese, according to  Business Insider.

The rainbow bagel is selling out at The Bagel Store in Brooklyn.

NEW YORK (FOX 5 NY) - The next food craze may be growing in Brooklyn. The Bagel Store on Bedford Ave. where lines are sometimes out the door is selling out of its latest creation: the 'rainbow' bagel. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet, the multi-colored, doughy treat is getting lots of attention.

It tastes like cereal and can be slathered with Funfetti-style cream cheese, according to Business Insider.

Celebrity publicist and Kim Kardashian's, BFF Jonathan Cheban, has been raving about the new and improved NYC staple on social media:

I need to find this Funfetti cream cheese bagel with real Cotton Candy TODAY!!! I LOVE COTTON CANDY!!!

A photo posted by Foodgōd (@jonathancheban) on

Hybrid Pastry Update: Enter the "Cragel"

BY BILLY LYONS  |  JANUARY 15, 2014

Braving the Bedford L train stop has been somewhat bearable as of late, thanks to a hybrid breakfast pastry known as the cragel. Gothamist reports that Williamsburg's The Bagel Store is selling the spawn of a croissant-bagel partnership for $2.95. The flaky pastry has a sweet glossy exterior, fluffy interior and manages to preserve the bagel's iconic hole. Owner and head bagel baker Scot Rossillo noted that he'd been "developing the recipe for the last nine months" and counted Dominique Ansel's success with the Cronut as a sign people were ready for a new kind of breakfast on the go. To make the cragel, Rossillo makes two separate batters, which he then combines ever so carefully. "I do it better than most people," he says. "I do it down to the molecule of the water." Like real bagels, the cragel is boiled before it's baked - so it has an authentic, glossy and chewy bagel-like crust.

Those interested in making the trip out to Brooklyn can breathe easy: the store isn't putting a limit on the amount of cragels you can order right now, and lines so far have been manageable - and bouncer free. "I can always make more. I don't want to disappoint" noted Rossillo. The shop is already known for a few offbeat breakfast selections like gingerbread and pumpkin pie-flavored bagels, so this sort of novelty baked good isn't entirely out of character. Those seeking the potential next big thing during the morning commute can check out the store's two locations in Williamsburg starting at 6 AM any day of the week, and if you're willing to wait an extra day or two for your order to arrive, you can also submit a special request through the store's online delivery page.

You're not hallucinating: The stunning rainbow bagel sandwich you need to try

Do not adjust your screen. You're not hallucinating. This amazing rainbow bagel is real and it's stuffed with cotton candy and cream cheese flavored with rainbow sprinkle cake. Yes, really.

After seeing photos of this out-of-control sandwich that have inundated Instagram feeds recently, I had to go to the source, The Bagel Store in Brooklyn, New York. As I took the subway over the Williamsburg Bridge, I looked out over the East River and wondered if it would taste the way that I imagined: like a unicorn that swallowed a princess that swallowed a rainbow that swallowed a castle. You get the picture.

Impossible to miss, as soon as I arrived at the shop I zeroed in on the technicolor Rainbow Bagels. First, I swore several times. Just being honest. They look like Play-Doh, I thought. I've sampled my fair share of Play-Doh as a child (everyone does that right?) and hoped that's where the resemblance ended. The first bite reminded me of one of my favorite childhood fruit-flavored breakfast cereals, Fruit Loops.

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Then, I had to know if this gorgeous bi-colored Cotton Candy Bagel actually tasted like the amusement park treat. The flavor was spot on.

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Owner-baker Scot Rossillo, aka The Bagel Artist, guided me to a variation of the classic, called Psychedelic Rainbow Bagels that have a similar berry-like flavor. They're Rossillo's personal favorites because they have even more vivid swirls and veins of color. "These are the most most groovy ones," he said.

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It takes five hours of consistent hands-on time to make a batch of 100 of the intricately designed multi-colored bagels. In that same amount of time, the shop can make 1,000 traditional bagels (which are really delicious by the way—I especially loved the satisfying chew and flavor of the onion version). But bagels are Rossillo's canvas and like any other artist, time is not a factor when it comes to creating a masterpiece. Up until all hours of the night, he's constantly coming up with new seasonal versions like these vanilla-flavored Candy Corn Bagels for Halloween.

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These pretty pink ones will be available through the end of October for breast cancer awareness month. They have a light and pleasant vanilla flavor.

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The shop will ship bagels anywhere in the U.S. and Rossillo will create custom designed colored bagels for anyone, like these Blue Healing Bagels that are a special request by Kathy Wakile from "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" and just happened to be at the shop.

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Now back to my mission: tasting that stunning technicolor bagel sandwich.

Step one: slice open those beauties and there's a kaleidoscope of shapes and colors.

Now for the toppings. This is no ordinary cream cheese. Rossillo bakes a rainbow sprinkle-filled white cake (reminiscent of Pillsbury's Funfetti), lets it cool and then carefully blends it into a cream cheese frosting so there are still bits of cake, cream cheese and sprinkles in every bite.

A generous layer of pink and blue cotton candy is the finishing touch. Okay, time for the true test. The first bite.

This is every little (and big) girl's dream: a rainbow dessert sandwich that tastes like a mashup of your favorite childhood birthday cake, your go-to childhood breakfast cereal and delicate and fluffy cotton candy.

Split in half, the sandwich forms two multi-colored arcs that even resemble the shape of a rainbow. The only thing missing is fairy dust, but I wouldn't be surprised if Rossillo whips up a batch by next week.

People are going nuts for this bagel that looks like a rainbow and tastes like cereal

I discovered The Bagel Store's Rainbow Bagels a couple of days ago on Snapchat. In a 10-second video, reality-TV star Jonathan Cheban — Kim Kardashian's best friend — emptied a bag of the colorful creations onto a table and stared at them as if they were the bagel equivalent of a unicorn. And they kind of are.

They taste like cereal, they're slathered with Funfetti-style cream cheese, and you'll get a ton of likes if you post a photo of one on social media. Keep scrolling to learn all about the trippy-looking Brooklyn bagels that are burning up Instagram.

The Bagel Store owner and head baker, Scot Rossillo, says the Rainbow Bagel is the most popular of his 30 varieties of bagels.

His Bedford Avenue shop has a line outside the door on weekends and the Rainbow Bagels sell out the quickest.

Not only that, but Rossillo says that the process of making Rainbow Bagels is so precise that he can only make 100 bagels every five hours. For comparison, he tells me that 5,000 ordinary bagels can be cranked out in the same amount of time.

"We're making 'em right now again," he says over the phone. Though he won't tell me what's in the Rainbow Bagel, he says they have "blueberry fruity flavors" and taste like cereal.

The Rainbow Bagel's Funfetti-style cream cheese is something special, too.

Rossillo has a technique for making his own Funfetti cake that preserves the integrity of the sprinkles so they don't melt into the batter when cooked. The cake is crumbled and mixed into the house-made cream cheese.

The Bagel Store has been selling Rainbow Bagels for a long time, but the craze didn't start until a couple months ago.

Rossillo thinks the sudden popularity is due to a combination of the US Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage, some celebrity shout-outs, and the explosion of the colorful bagels on Instagram.

"I make Brooklyn-style bagels," he says. "I created my own starter many years ago with fresh yeast and we keep reusing the same yeast. We season the boiling water upstairs specially."

Rossillo has been making bagels for 18 years. He grew up behind a place called Big City Bagels in Gravesend, Brooklyn, and started working there as a kid before opening his own shop, which has two locations and ships nationally.

He suggests going to his Bedford Avenue location in Williamsburg for the Rainbow Bagel, since the other shop has a limited supply.

More of his creations include the French toast bagel with Nutella cream cheese.

Chocolate chip and cannoli cream cheeses go great on a croissant-bagel hybrid called the "Cragel."

repost via @instarepost20 from @sasaprl14 croissants with nutella + chocolate chip cannoli cream cheese. heavenly. #listing 😱 #instarepost20

A photo posted by Scot Rossillo "Bagel Artist" (@thebagelstore) on

A French toast Cragel with Nutella cream cheese.

And the BEC — a bacon, egg, and cheese bagel with extra bacon and cheese baked into the dough.

Video: Witness The Creation Of The Psychedelic Rainbow Bagel

BY SCOTT HEINS IN FOOD ON DEC 9, 2015 12:50 PM

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Remember the leisurely mornings of your childhood? Remember colorful bowls of cereal, pastries slathered with blue frosting, and cartoons on TV before school? Carefree and sweet, the a.m. used to be such a simpler time. You woke up rested, grown-ups shuttled you around. Coffee was the least of your worries and once again, there were cartoons.

Baker Scot Rossillo, who opened his first Bagel Store in Williamsburg 15 years ago, has found a way to capture some of that child-like joy with his latest concoction, the Rainbow Bagel. Working out of his Bagel Store location on Williamsburg's Southside, Rossillo has created something of a phenomenon, one propelled by social media and founded on decades of experience. “These colors do make you happy," he said while rolling out rainbow dough in his kitchen. Brushed with butter and marbled ROYGBIV-style, the bagels are already multicolored long before they're put on sale, and working with them every day gives Rossillo "personal therapy." 

"If you're having a shitty day," he says. "I'll guarantee this'll make your day better."

Rossillo, 49, grew up in Gravesend and boasts that he grew up in a bagel store. Over the years, rainbow bagels became a kind of personal hobby—fun treats he made in small batches for friends, family, and himself. But in 2015 he decided to bring them to the marketplace. Since that happened, Rossillo has made untold thousands of "traditional" rainbow-style bagels, red velvet bagels, pink and blue cotton candy bagels, and all-purple batches for NYU events. He's concocted sweet "funfetti" cream cheese to pair with them. His stock sells out daily, and on weekends The Bagel Store's rainbow offerings are all gone in three hours, sometimes less.

“I really look at it as an art form, I love what I make," Rossillo said. "I’ve eaten every one of my bagels thousands and thousands of times, but I don’t need to do that in order to maintain a creative aspect any longer.”

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When it comes to flavor, the batches can differ, based on which colors and ingredients are inspiring Rossillo on any given day (during a visit last month, the baker confessed to being in a Disney Princess state of mind), but each rainbow bagel blends a light sweetness with a soft, hearty texture. In a world where donuts refuse to abide by sugar limits, or even sanity, the rainbow bagel is in fact a pretty sensible choice. 

On a good day for Rossillo, five hours of mixing, kneading, and baking can yield two hundred bagels, but Rossillo admits that, were he sticking to a more monochromatic recipe, he could crank out five times as much product. "It's really a passion of love, not a passion of profit."

"The bagel industry in itself is very mundane," he assured. "It's very, very basic, and I'm not a basic kind of person, so I took it to a different level."

The Bagel Store is located at 349 Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg

Are Rainbow Bagels Taking Over the World?

How does looking at these bagels make you feel?

er. ma. gerd.

A photo posted by sarahjampel (@sarahjampel) on

Hello, World!

If Scot Rossillo—the "World's Premiere Bagel Artist"and owner of The Bagel Store in Brooklyn, New York—has one wish, it's that it makes you feel happy.

"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.)

"Do the colors make you happy when you look at them?" he wondered. "That’s my point.”

Magical 🦄✨ #rainbowbagel #thebagelstore #newyork

A photo posted by Erin (@erin__eva) on

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).

This is the bagel seen 'round the world:

STARTING MY DAY WITH RAINBOW BAGELS ☕️☕️☕️💖💖💖💖💖 @thebagelstore

A photo posted by Adriana Lima (@adrianalima) on

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.

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.

Coming Soon: Rainbow Bagels #🌈

A photo posted by Jessica Leibowitz (@jssica) on

And if you're wondering how the bagels made us feel...

Photo by Mark Weinberg

Let's just say that there's absolutely no food in the world that's better at bringing out our inner child—or that's more fun to play with.

What other foods should be rainbow-colored? Let us know in the comments below—and we'll see what Scot can do.

People are going nuts for this bagel that looks like a rainbow and tastes like Magic in your mouth

People are going nuts for this bagel that looks like a rainbow and tastes like Magic in your mouth

I discovered The Bagel Store's Rainbow Bagels a couple of days ago on Snapchat. In a 10-second video, reality-TV star Jonathan Cheban — Kim Kardashian's best friend — emptied a bag of the colorful creations onto a table and stared at them as if they were the bagel equivalent of a unicorn. And they kind of are.