Pink Ribbon Bagel: How it began.

Eating this Panera Bread® bagel isn’t just an annual treat—it’s a chance to help the fight against breast cancer.

It’s fall at Panera, and you know what that means: cherry…vanilla…yumminess. Flavored with select ingredients including cherry chips, dried cherries, honey, vanilla, and brown sugar, the Cherry Vanilla Bagel is a seasonal staple made especially for autumn. Then, in October at participating cafes, its shape shifts into a ribbon in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

You may be wondering how the Pink Ribbon Bagel came about. Here is the story.

At the age of 42, Sue Stees, Panera Bread franchise owner, was diagnosed with breast cancer. While she did have a family history of breast cancer, her mother also battled the disease, the news of her diagnosis came as a shock. She had stage 3 breast cancer. Following her diagnosis, Sue explains, “At the time, my daughters were 13 and 16 years old and I fought to have the years to see them grow into the beautiful women they are today. I also had a whole lot of living to do with my wonderful husband.”

Sue endured surgery, six months of chemotherapy, followed by six weeks of radiation. Throughout this part of her journey, Sue came to the realization that, “it truly is a paradox: that you must fight with all of the medical tools available to you, and yet be accepting and at peace no matter the outcome.”

Today, Sue is a 33 year breast cancer survivor and continues to use her story to bring awareness to the cause, “Breast cancer is even more prevalent than when I was diagnosed, with even younger women (and men) facing this disease. There are so many options for treatment now, and best of all, it is no longer something that should strike you with paralyzing fear. Early detection is still the key and thus awareness becomes a mission.”

Sue’s mission to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer took off in 2001 when Sue and a friend, Mary Jane Buck, were planning a luncheon for a local breast cancer organization and the idea for the Pink Ribbon Bagel was born. The Pink Ribbon Bagel is the Panera way to bring breast cancer awareness to the public. Pink Ribbon Bagel campaigns in Panera Bread bakery-cafes throughout the country raise both awareness and money for local breast cancer charities. A percentage of sales from each Pink Ribbon Bagel is donated and many bakery-cafes host 100% days during October when 100% of the Pink Ribbon bagel sales are donated. Since the creation of the Pink Ribbon Bagel in 2001, Panera Bread has donated over $2.6 million to breast cancer charities across the nation.