Momofuku overlord David Chang is pissed. The drama's not about some kind of pork bun or fried chicken snafu; it's not about a bad Yelp review: It's about bagel balls, which are round rolls with roughly the chew and crust of a bagel filled (usually) with cream cheese. Specifically, Starbucks' new bagel balls, which are now available at the coffee giant's locations throughout the Northeast, including in New York City. That is also where Chang associate and pastry chef Christina Tosi serves a thing called a Bagel Bomb. Milk Bar — the pastry and ice cream shop part of the Momofuku empire — has been serving Bagel Bombs since at least 2011.
Are you fucking serious @Starbucks? Didn't know your R&D team only reads @milkbarstore cookbook-pick on someone else pic.twitter.com/eZLqoCpqww— Dave Chang (@davidchang) December 4, 2015
The tricky thing is that Starbucks is not claiming to have invented this possible Bagel Bomb copy cat. Starbucks is offering bagel balls made by an NYC-based start-up called Bantam Bagels which didn't even open until 2013; the shop's claim to fame is a stint on Shark Tank earlier this year. A few months after they opened, in November 2013, Eater NY critic Robert Sietsema said of Bantam's bagel balls: "The novelty of these starchy orbs (many of the creamy fillings end up tasting only infinitesimally different) is a big selling point, and you wonder if the product itself is good enough to encourage repeat visits."
It's worth noting that Milk Bar's Bagel Bombs are more substantial in size than the bagel balls at Bantam and now about 500 Starbucks locations, though they otherwise look and taste a lot alike.
Would David Chang, Christina Tosi, and the Milk Bar funky bunch have considered mass producing their bagel balls for sale at a retailer like Starbucks? It's within the realm of possibility, given the Momo group's ambition. Eater has reached out to Momofuku for comment.