Even the oldest born and bred New Yorker probably hasn’t accomplished the feat that 38-year-old Mike Varley has recently completed: eating—and ranking!—202 bagels from all the five boroughs.
The culinary project is named Everything is Everything, an ode to the fact that every bagel that Varley reviewed was an everything bagel with scallion cream cheese (“I think it gave each store enough room to demonstrate what they are capable of and it’s one of the most popular orders,” he explains). As striking as the mere thought of devouring over 200 bagels in a mere 13 months is, Varley’s effort goes way beyond a mere “best of” list.
The former video game producer has, in fact, created a map that pinpoints each one of the foods he’s tasted. When clicking on a bagel on the map, which you can find right here, you’ll notice the creator’s score and the destination’s ranking both within a borough-specific list and a wider NYC one.
All the stores that Varley visited were reviewed on a zero-to-five scale in three separate categories—store, bagel and spread—and you’ll notice both category-specific and overall scores associated to each map point. According to his subjective take, P&C Bagels in Middle Village (that would be Flushing, Queens) serves the very best bagels in New York.
The project also has an NFT component attached to it, which is actually how Varley hopes to monetize the entire effort. “Each bagel review is sold as an NFT,” he explains. “It’s a 202-piece collection and we’ve already sold 80 of them.” What, exactly, an NFT bagel review is, we’re not sure of—but it’s clearly resonating with people.
Everything is Everything is actually a single portion of a larger undertaking that Varley took on alongside his wife Jessi Highet. Between June 2020 and June 2021, the two completed a project that they called 2020: Total Clarity, by which they walked five marathons a week for one calendar year around all five boroughs. In case you’re doing the math, that’s 7,000 miles in total—131 miles a week.
“So many of us think we know New York City and then, when we think about it, most of our experiences are within the one-and-a-half mile range around us,” says Varley. “You might have traveled to select destinations but have you ever [seen the city in full?]”
The couple chronicled their walks on a weekly podcast called Total Clarity and also documented their journeys on photo and video. Everything is Everything is clearly an offspring of all that gathered data.
Varley is cagey about future efforts fueled by said data, although he does reveal that he has four other series lined up. The next one, he says, involves the pictures of lost pet signs that he took on his city-wide walks. “My intention is to turn the pictures into pixel art, store them as NFTs to give them a sense of permanence, sell them and donate the money to local shelters,” he says.
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.