What the Pink Ribbon Bagel Really Means

What the Pink Ribbon Bagel Really Means

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.

Though you may have munched on many a Pink Ribbon Bagel, you may not know just how they help to benefit the breast cancer cause. Select Panera Bread bakery-cafes across the country raise money with these bagels in many ways, some standard and some noticeably unique. Here are a few examples.

100 Percent Donation Days: While a portion of Pink Ribbon Bagel proceeds benefit a local breast cancer organization, select markets offer a 100% donation day, during which the entirety of that day’s sales of Pink Ribbon Bagels is donated. In an effort to build awareness and raise funds for breast cancer research, Panera offers the community the opportunity to pre-order Pink Ribbon Bagels. This option allows Panera to fulfill the demand for Pink Ribbon Bagels while maximizing the amount raised for the breast cancer partner.

Each participating market has its own breast cancer partners, says Erin Barnhart, community relations manager for a Panera Bread franchise based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “The partner really does make a difference,” she says. “We appreciate our local partners, as their support can make all the difference in achieving our goals of building awareness and raising funds for treatment and research.” In the past 10 years, the franchise, which operates more than 30 locations in Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Arizona, has raised tens of thousands of dollars for breast cancer partners through Pink Ribbon Bagel campaigns.

TV Exposure: Many locations find creative ways to promote the month of special bagel sales. In Tulsa alone, where the Pink Ribbon Bagel was created in 2001 by breast cancer survivor and franchise owner Sue Stees (meet her here), that franchisee market has donated thousands to local breast cancer programs. To kick off this year’s promotion of the Pink Ribbon Bagel, a morning TV show featured a contest where the show’s anchors competed to see who could form the best ribbon-shaped bagel from raw dough.

Big Wigs: One idea planned for 2016 in Fayetteville, is for local business executives to wear pink wigs. The idea is for them to share information on the Pink Ribbon Bagel and pre-order forms with their work community.

Panera locations everywhere are finding ways to contribute to the breast cancer cause: holding survivor essay contests, running in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, putting together “survivor baskets” for those currently going through treatment. “It’s humbling,” Erin says of the efforts. “It makes you realize the fight people go through. And it’s not a hard sell—people want to be involved in whatever way they can. That’s what’s so great about the Pink Ribbon Bagel. People might say ‘I can’t write a check, but I can buy a bagel.’”