‘Seeds Will Not Replace Us!’ read signs placed in the windows of plain bagel shops across the New York City area, eerily echoing the anti-Semitic remarks chanted by white supremacists this past month in Charlottesville, Virginia. Many traditional cafés have found themselves in quite a qualm, as the influx of bagel shops with a much more vast and diverse menu has left the once dominant, ‘indigenous’ shops on the outside, struggling to bring in business.
“There’s no place for those Rainbow, Seeded, or Colored bagels in this neighborhood,” said Ronald Chump, owner of the New York City-based franchise ‘Chump’s Café. “We know what our idea of the bagel industry looks like, and they are not it.”
The outrage comes at a time where our country is divided not only by its inhabitants but by the foods we enjoy as well. Society has found a way to discriminate against others based on one’s ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, and now bagel preference.
But why the uproar over bagels all of a sudden?
For years the bagel demographic, and those who consume them, have been overwhelmingly white. There was a certain level of comfort that the community has had knowing that its bagels represent them. With the introduction of these new flavored bagels, the plain bagel community feels threatened.
“Soon there’s not going to be any more plain bagels left, our kids are going to have to grow up knowing that all they’ll have left to choose from are colored [bagels]” said one saddened resident who looked on from the window of Chump’s cafe.
As for the new bagel shops, hundreds of people from all walks of life have lined up outside to show support of the new and improved cafés.
The response amongst the younger crowd has been positive as they have not only expanded which bagels they’re willing to try, but are also straying away from the traditional mindset that one bagel is somehow better than the other.
“I’d always been a plain bagel fan,” said one customer as she sported an ‘All Bagels Matter’ t-shirt.
“But now that I’ve been open to trying new things, I think they’re all equal,” she said while waiting on line at ‘Inclusion,’ one of the many new bagel shops, located directly across the street from “Chumps.”
Owned by a group of three recent college graduates, the “Inclusion” owners laughed at the idea that they were somehow intruding and gentrifying the neighborhood with their new take on bagels.
“Gentrifying? We opened ‘Inclusion’ because there was no diversity here, to begin with.”
This uproar is ironic as plain bagel shop business owners have complained about the gentrification of the neighborhood, yet five plain bagel shops have been built in the past eight months that are direct replacements of tenement housings that have left hundreds of families displaced.
Chump’s café in particular sparked outrage in the community when it replaced a tenement building thought to be a staple in the community that inhabited hundreds of low-income residents. These “renovations” left many struggling to find housing, seeing as the rent has shown no sign of decreasing anytime soon. Unremorseful, Chump continued to thrive as his business took off, yet now he seems to be singing quite a different tune.
“Good for them, now they can see how it feels to be run out of a place they love. I never liked plain bagels anyway,” one long-time resident of the community said.
As Chump looked on at the success of his competitors across the street, his burnt orange face filled with rage and he answered the begging question: what was he going to do? His reply, simple. “We’re going to make bagels great again.”