NEW HAVEN, CONN. — A little more than two years after the brand was acquired by Bimbo Bakeries USA, Lender’s Bagels is hitting the market with new recipes and flavors, refreshed packaging, and its first-ever social media advertising campaign. The initiatives are part of the brand’s celebration of its 95th year in business.
Lender’s Bagels’ history dates back to 1927, when Harry Lender started the New York Bagel Bakery in the family garage in New Haven, Conn. As the business grew into the late 1950s, Harry’s sons, Murray and Marvin, began to freeze the bakery’s bagels to keep up with consumer demand, defrosting them for higher-volume weekend sales. This technique proved to be the catalyst for much of the future success for the company and the product.
The Lender brothers took ownership of New York Bagel Bakery in 1960. In 1965, they changed the name to Lender’s Bagels and built their first industrial facility. Originally 6,000 square feet, the plant doubled in size within the first year under the brothers’ leadership. Growth continued and additional facilities opened over the following 20 years.
Lender’s Bagels was sold to Kraft Foods in 1985, allowing Marvin and Murray Lender to spend more time on community development and non-profit work. In 1996, Kellogg acquired Lender’s from Kraft for $455 million, but sold the business after only three years to Aurora Foods for $275 million. Four years later, Aurora sold Lender’s to Pinnacle Foods. Conagra Brands acquired the Lender’s Bagels business as part of its $10.9 billion acquisition of Pinnacle Foods in 2018. Lender’s current owner, BBU, Horsham, Pa., acquired the business and a baking plant in Mattoon, Ill., in January 2020 for an undisclosed amount.
“While bagels are an everyday breakfast item now, that wasn’t the case when Lender’s Bagels first started,” said Carl Lender, son of Murray Lender and grandson of Harry Lender. “Lender’s Bagels has constantly reinvented itself to meet the wants of consumers everywhere. My grandfather provided the foundation that built a strong reputation locally. My father used his marketing talent to build a strong reputation and name recognition nationally, while my uncles Marvin and Sam, focused on the innovation and efficiency that made it all possible. Now, I’m excited for this new chapter of Lender’s Bagels, 100 is just around the corner.”
The relaunch includes:
- Reformulating the bagels with healthier ingredients, including no high-fructose corn syrup
- Rebranding that brings out the Lender’s bold, blue color and highlights Lender’s Bagels history on the new packaging, with callbacks to the founding of the brand
- New flavors, including the launch of Lender’s blueberry frozen bagels
- Reaching out to consumers directly, for the first time in more than 25 years, with a fun social and digital media campaign
- A partnership with the LeBron James Family Foundation to sponsor student and family programming as well as the Lender’s Dining Hall at the I PROMISE Village in Akron, Ohio.
“Lender’s Bagels is a beloved American brand with an inspiring history and joyful personality that so many remember fondly,” said Jill Matthews, director of marketing innovation and strategy at BBU. “Our goal is to reintroduce the newly improved Lender’s Bagels and celebrate 95 years of this great-tasting, fun brand.”
Rebranded and reformulated Lender’s Bagels are being rolled out now and may be found in the refrigerated or frozen sections of grocery stores around the country.