Einstein Bros. Drops Gluten-free Bagels - Celiac Disease
Oct 6 2010

Einstein Bros. Drops Gluten-free Bagels

When I heard the news about Einstein Bros. Bagels test marketing Udi’s gluten-free bagels in the Denver area last year, I assumed that it was just a matter of time before other locations of Einstein’s would offer gluten-free bagels as well. The fact that there is a huge gluten-free community in the Denver area should mean that Udi’s gluten-free bagels sales would do well. If that happened, it would make sense that Einstein Bros. Bagels might offer gluten-free bagels in other areas – especially those with large gluten-free communities.

To move things along, I wrote this post suggesting that anyone that wanted a gluten-free option at the bagel place might want to contact the company to let them know. There is an Einstein’s not far from me and I’d love to be able to go in and get a bagel there – or meet friends in town at other locations – just like I used to do when I ate gluten. I just assumed it was just a matter of time before that would be possible. Yes, I know it’s never safe to assume anything.

As most everyone who doesn’t live under a rock knows, Udi’s gluten-free bagels are widely available in the U.S. now. Therefore, there should not be an issue regarding supplying other locations of Einstein Bros. Bagels with as many gluten-free bagels as needed. To those of you that don’t like the plain bagels, Udi’s is introducing some fantastic new bagel flavors in early 2010. Oh, to get a cinnamon raisin bagel at a bagel shop – what a treat that would be!

Every so often, I call one of the Einstein locations here to inquire about gluten-free bagels. In the beginning, my question was met with uncertainty about what gluten-free even meant. As more people called, employees and managers became more educated and knew exactly what we were asking about. They knew about the test market program out in Colorado and stated that presently, they didn’t have any gluten-free bagels in the Atlanta area.

When I called the corporate office of Einstein’s last week to ask about when the gluten-free bagels might roll out to other locations, the person I spoke to gave me some pretty bad news. Not only were the bagels not on the way to Atlanta (or elsewhere), the test market program in the Denver area is ending. The company did not switch to another brand of bagels – they just decided not to move forward with gluten-free bagels at this time. I was stunned by this news.

The nice representative at the corporate office of Einstein’s actually told me that me who supplied the bagels, Udi’s Gluten-Free, which of course, I already knew. Even so, I thought it was nice of the person to share that information with me. She also mentioned that they get requests daily asking about gluten-free bagels from people all over the U.S. asking when other locations of Einstein Bros. Bagels will offer gluten-free bagels.

When I hung up the phone I contacted someone at Udi’s to verify this news was actually true. After getting confirmation that the information was correct, my heart kind of sank. I know with any movement there are advances and set backs and in the scheme of things, this is a small set back overall. Like many people, I can drive five minutes to a store and buy Udi’s gluten-free bagels now. While it’s wonderful to be able to do that, it would be super exciting to walk into a bagel shop and get a gluten-free bagel. I’m sure the day will come when that’s possible, but maybe it won’t be at Einstein Bros. Bagels.

For those of you that want to complain about this change at Einstein’s, please consider calling the company directly. The toll free corporate office phone number is 1-800-224-3563. The company can also be contacted via this website form.

Article Written by:

Kyle Eslick is the founder of Gluten Free Media, as well as the creator of the popular Celiac Support Groups page. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and now Google+!


  1. Scotty says:

    You are so right…..it would just be niceties have that option as we may get to fellowship with friends without being left out gastronomically!

  2. Steve Richardson says:

    My guess is that the sales simply didn’t meet a required threshold. Which means that if those of us with CD and other gluten-sensitivities don’t go out and support firms that are trying to cater to our needs, such firms will lose interest in GF offerings. It happened to a local bakery/cafe here in my hometown: all GF food, great location, great tasting food, etc., but simply not enough customer support; they had to shut down.

  3. Tiffany Janes says:

    Agreed, Scotty.

    Steve – I bet you live where two gf businesses shut down recently and you might be right about the sales at Einstein’s. I’m guilty myself of not going to the gf bakery here often because my husband just won’t hear of me buying bakery items that we don’t need (or have room to store) because I get shipments of products (to review) every single week. Also, our bakery is small and doesn’t have a place to sit down, have a cup of coffee and a muffin or cookie. If it did, I’d meet friends there as often as possible.

    It’s easy for me to get to Jason’s Deli and I’ve been to three locations already in two states. I’m doing everything I can to support them having gf sandwiches and I would have done the same for a bagel shop – even one downtown.

  4. I am saddened by this news. 🙁 You are right, Udi’s bagels are available all over now, but it would be nice to have one with friends at a deli or coffee shop.


  5. Christine says:

    Honestly, even when they had gluten free bagels, I wouldn’t order them from Einstein’s. The staff didn’t understand what gluten free meant or how to deal with the very high chance of cross contamination in the environment of the store. Too many things could go wrong and most employees didn’t seem to care enough to make me feel safe. Multiple people posting bad about bad experiences with Einstein’s while trying to order a gluten free bagel probably drove sales down.

  6. Bluestem says:

    I have sent round after round of emails, encouraging breakfast-centric establishments (both chain/corporate and locally-owned) to carry g-f breads/batters/doughs. At this point, if they don’t provide an alternative – even one as broadly different from grains as potatoes – I avoid them entirely. It doesn’t seem to impact managers that you arrive at their establishment, either, with a pre-packed supply of rice bread, tapioca muffins, or corn tortillas to accompany your breakfast. Caribou, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Einstein’s, Denny’s, Panera, Jamba, IHOP, Cracker Barrel, Waffle House, Dunkin Donuts are all off the list, and those are just the chains local to me. I love making my own breakfast anyway!

  7. Tiffany Janes says:

    Christine – thanks for that input. Certainly, if the staff didn’t “get it”, they should not offer gf bagels in the first place.

    Bluestem – I understand your point completely. However, for my money, I don’t just want a gf option – I want one that tastes good. I’m not naming the place, but I went to a restaurant out of town that had gf bagels, English muffins and wraps. When I inquired as to what brands they were using, I was disappointed to find out the items were all things I consider inedible. My meal came and I took one bite of my breakfast sandwich and removed the English muffin. It was even worse than I’d remembered. I and left hungry, but luckily I found some gf chocolate cake elsewhere to fill me up.

  8. jim brennan says:

    Tiffany, I learned the hard way as well, but learned a lot in the process. I walked into Manhattan Bagels in Bucks County, PA and asked if they had gluten-free bagels, like I ask everywhere I go. Apparently Eininstein owns Manhattan, and the manager was ahead of the curve. He actually knew about the testing going on in Denver. But he overspoke and told me they expected to offer gluten-free bagals within a few months. I suppose it was when everyone thought it was promising. Anyway, I went as far a writing an article for our local newspaper and when people read it Manhattan was inundated with customers asking for gluten-free bagels. Well, we all know the ending to this story. Anyway, I traveled to Ireland and Scotland last year and found gluten-free baked goods relatively common, to the extent that a fast food chain, O’Briens, carries gluten-free bread for thier sandwiches. What’s more surprising is that their gluten-free breads are as tasty with consistent texture as regular breads. Huh? How can they do it and we can’t? I tried contacting O’Briens several times to no avail. Maybe you can do some inventigative work. Thanks, and good luck.

  9. Tiffany Janes says:

    Bluestern – love your spunk…keep it up! On vacation, we almost never have breakfast out (unless in NYC). I’d rather enjoy a good muffin or bagel and save my money for sightseeing.

    Jim – I totally hear and agree with you! When we had tea sandwiches at the Dorchester hotel in London, shortly after my dx, my husband ate a bite of one and then grabbed my hand before I tasted one for myself. He said the sandwiches could not be gf. He asked for a manager to express his concerns. She then showed us how the gluten sandwiches and the gf ones looked different. When I tasted how good the bread was (they baked in house), I teared up. I’m very happy with all the new products I’ve been able to find here since then, but I’m not sure anything compares to that bread…five years later. With my new job at Delight gluten-free (Advertising Manager), I don’t have time for investigating much that isn’t connected to my work. However, I thank you for the tip about OBrien’s because we hope to get to Ireland one day 😉

  10. Sandy says:

    It really is time someone offered a gluten free bagel at a restaurant or coffee shop. Come on Panera, make it happen!

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