Cleveland Hustles: The Hustle Continues

Cleveland bagels compete with New York to impress $100M-backed retailer Boxed

Death, taxes and the supremacy of New York bagels.

There are three certainties in life — or so we thought.

On the latest episode of CNBC's reality business show "Cleveland Hustles," the owners of the Cleveland Bagel Co. flew out to the Big Apple to debunk everything we've ever known about boiled and baked circles of dough.

Bonin Bough, host of "Cleveland Hustles," facilitated a meeting with Chieh Huang, CEO of Boxed, and Elyse Burack, the company's senior marketing manager.

The goal was to impress them in a taste test and secure a national distribution deal with the bulk wholesale shopping company. It would be a massive growth step for Cleveland Bagel.

Cleveland Bagel Company offered their product in a taste test against New York’s best.
Source: CNBC
Cleveland Bagel Company offered their product in a taste test against New York’s best.

Boxed competes with Amazon and Costco, and a little less than a year ago raised more than $100 million in new funding. They're going all in, and their target customers are millennials whose shopping habits offer loads of opportunities.

"They'll love the mainstream brands," Huang said. "But at the same time we also carry artisan brands. So it wouldn't be out of the question if you guys are the only bagel we sell on Boxed nationally."

Cleveland Bagel co-owner Dan Herbst wondered out loud, "Where do we fit between Pop-Tarts and paper towels?"

Everything would depend on the taste test: pitting Cleveland Bagel Co. bagels against the very best of New York.

"When they pulled out those bagels, I was stoked," Herbst said. "I feel like I've known for years that we have a better product than New York has."

The CEO and senior marketing manager for Boxed try Cleveland Bagels in a taste test.
Source: CNBC
The CEO and senior marketing manager for Boxed try Cleveland Bagels in a taste test.

And, at least according to Huang and Burack, he was right. Both chose Cleveland Bagel as the best.

"Do we have a mic that I can just drop?" said Geoff Hardman, the other co-owner of Cleveland Bagel.

But they still have another big hurdle to face: Agreeing to a deal with Boxed.

In the meantime, there's another champion in Cleveland.

Correction: Elyse Burack is senior marketing manager at Boxed. An earlier version misspelled her last name.