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Einstein Bros. Bagels has rolled out a six-van "Bagel Brigade" to hand out 20,000 free bagels along the Wasatch Front this week promoting their products at hospitals, police and fire stations, schools, parks and university centers.

Each van carries 1,000 freshly made bagels packaged with a knife and serving of cream cheese. They are dispensed by juggling "bagel-meisters."The Bagel Brigade is part of a national tour by the latest bagel-making company to hit the Salt Lake area. The company plans to give away 1 million bagels across the country.

Einstein Bros. Bagels has modified the traditional approach to bagel-making by including the step of steaming bagels to create a product that is softer and chewier than many other brands.

Einstein Bros. operates 14 stores between Provo and Ogden that serve 20 varieties of bagels, an assortment of cream cheeses and a menu of salads, sandwiches, beverages and soups.

The franchise operates 115 bagel stores nationally and plans to have 275-300 stores by the end of 1996.

Einstein Bros. Bagels Inc. was formed in March 1995 when three companies merged: Brackman Brothers Inc. from Salt Lake, Bagel & Bagel Inc. from Kansas City, and Offerdahl's Bagel Gourmet Inc. from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. A fourth company joined in August: the Baltimore Bagel Co. from San Diego.