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The Day we helped make A Day a National Day

A Story behind baking and making National Rugelach Day happen

Baked goods help us celebrate. Every now and then we should return the favor. Recently, The Think Digital Workshop team worked with Growth Path Harlem and New York Urban League to help small businesses thrive.

Post-covid, SMEs have to evolve, just like every brand and corporation. With family businesses, it isn't just about about untenable high overheads. It also isn't a staffing issue; with teams around the globe gobsmacked by sudden WFH imperatives. Lee Lee's Baked Goods is one of millions of brick and mortar businesses who truly need to pivot and create a significant digital marketing footprint to replace the (primarily) walk-in business they missed out on.

But Mr. Lee's legendary rugelach remains supreme!
One of the most beautiful stacks we've ever seen - Discovered while devouring Lee Lee's rugelach also,

Lee Lee's Baked Goods in New York is literally a legendary bakery in Harlem. They decided to launch the very first National Rugelach Day....

This is the beginning of a Think Digital Series on how we helped from a Content Strategy perspective, working closely with their team and creating legacy content which became a strong foundation for their digital footprint. This was essential in complementing (and amplifying) the work done by various PR and News Websites on the day of the show. If you have a brick and mortar business, this will help you, too!

Step 1. Brand Crushes and The Competitive Landscape

Team Lee Lee cited a Brand Crush: Harrod's in London. Something about how they re-invented themselves over the decades was something they loved. It's a brand that Mr.Lee's wife was very fond of. Kristina's first step was to investigate family-run businesses closer to Lee Lee's business model. There are a few epic Jewish Bagel Shoppes in Shoreditch, London, for instance. One perpetually had a queue, and the others were not nearly as loved. We added the discovered reason for that to our knowledge library.

This is a very quick teaser on Branding Bootcamp Day One

One other case study we shared with the client is about how Fortnum and Mason beat Harrod's and other businesses in one particular food category during a specific digital campaign impacting annual sales. London stores are of course not direct competitors, but how they win hearts and minds is something any baked goods store can learn from.

Step 2. History Lesson and The Founder Story

Rugelach is a traditional Jewish cookie or pastry. The basic recipe starts with a sour cream or cream cheese dough and takes off from there. Areas and families have their own traditional variations. You’ll find it with raisins, currents, marzipan, chocolate, pistachios! Almonds. All sorts. There are as many “right” ways to bake rugelach as there are skilled bakers. And that is a tradition worth celebrating.

Originating in Poland nearly four centuries ago, rugelachs are today found in most Israeli cafes and bakeries, shaped in the form of a crescent by rolling a triangle of dough around a filling. Transcending culture and created around the world, it has a huge pool of history and culture to draw knowledge from. That knowledge helped pave the decisions made about making a day of it! We also aligned the content with Afro-Futurism -- attracting a new wave of bloggers and content creators.


We started our own story threads about why Mr Lee bakes at all in "I bake therefore I am". How does anyone maintain the quality that they have for over 50 years? We interviewed him and also talked to everyone who makes rugelach and has respect for him as an entrpreneur and Harlem legend.

"...It’s a very old pastry. The first recorded instance of rugelach was in 1650 in Poland, but that record is suspect. There is an acknowledged culture of protectiveness around rugelach recipes." "Families with the last word on the most perfect rugelach you’ve ever had protect their recipes with utmost private jealousy. As well they should." "The mystique contributes to the pleasure."

Step 3. Add User Generated Content (UGC) into a Content Machine and mix relentlessly

There are essays, articles, blogs--- and all these are housed in a content machine. Add videos into the mix and it helps speed up discovery. Where UGC was once considered drizzle on a beautiful has become the heart of a strong Content Strategy.

So we asked the makers (and eaters) more questions and invited them in-store for weeks prior to The Day.

The first recorded rugelach, likely as not, has nothing to do with the first time anyone baked rugelach. Due to the long tradition of closely guarded family recipes, odds are good that families were making rugelach for decades before anyone had the weakness of character to tell a reporter about it.

Once the cat leapt from the bag, countless variations of rugelach emerged and we ate our way though it.

We come, therefore, to National Rugelach Day. The gem of the idea was revealed in a Think Digital Workshop. We created content to sweeten discovery of the day, and Desiree knocked on PR doors to find the best way to own the day through the National Archives. Established in 2022 by Alvin Lee Smalls of Lee Lee’s Baked Goods in Harlem, NY, National Rugelach Day (was and) will be celebrated on April 29th from this time forth! It will be a celebration of the traditions of rugelach. As a baked good, the most straightforward tradition related to rugelach is eating it.

During the first National Rugelach Day, it wasn't just the attendees in-store. It was also celebrated by many who made the traditional pastry from the comforts of their homes...and our team shared these in the Instagram stories and all the usual places. So yes, National Rugelach Day will always celebrate the new bakers, the epic eaters, and those discovering rugelach for the first time.

Confections have always put that little twist of specialness on special occasions. Cakes and cookies are punctuation, creating a sweet emphasis on a day—an evening—an hour. We have deep gratitude for our confections, and they have earned a day a year when we celebrate them.

We decided to help Mr. Lee and the Team behind Lee lee's Baked Goods celebrate it well...Mark The Date again in 2023! Celebrate virtually or in their Legendary Bakery in Harlem.


Oh, and Mr. Lee turned 80 years young on April 29, 2022 as well...A lovely idea by his wife make National Rugelach Day be precisely on Alvin Smalls' birthday. Hundreds joined us in celebrating it all, some were previous customers, most were newbies...and almost everyone was more than happy to have signed his (kinda) online Birthday Card!

This was the data collection tool we used, wrapped up in yummy rugelach mush


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We now avoid the term "digital hacks". It's a long story as to why; but in a previous incarnation of our Think Digital Blog, this is what Persephone writes about: The deep dark secrets of digital marketing that they don't teach in Uni Classes or books. Expect Think Tank Tactics and how to Spring-Clean your content anytime of the year.

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In Greek Mythology, Athena was the Goddess of Wisdom and War. A wildly beloved guardian of knowledge, Athena is our #ThinkDigital Editor in Chief for Think Tank Tactics. She also writes about her decades of experience in Beauty and Global Strategy while Battling challenges in the deeper meaning of Diversity & Multiculuralism.

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