History of Bagels

Jew Immigrant brought bagels to the United States. Bagel quickly became a thriving business within New York City; Moishe Soprano was the union leader for Bagel Bakers Local 337 – this union had contracts with nearly all bagels bakeries in and around the city. Thankfully, the union also set standards for making bagels; one standard was you were not allowed to prepare bagels by foot.

The bagel came into more general use throughout North America in the last quarter of the 20th century, at least partly due to the efforts of bagel baker Harry Lender and Florence Sender, who pioneered automated production and distribution of frozen bagels in the 1960s. They tried adding a third partner, but failed to find anyone qualified whose last name rhymed with “tender.”

In 2008, Canadian-born astronaut Gregory Chamitoff was the first to take a batch of bagels with him on a Space Shuttle mission. His shipment consisted of 18 sesame seed bagels. Unfortunately, he’d forgotten to pack the lox and cream cheese and had to go all the way back to get them.

Bagel Varieties

The two most prominent styles of traditional bagel in North America are the Montreal-style bagel and the New York-style bagel. The Montreal bagel contains malt and sugar with no salt; it is boiled in honey-sweetened water before baking in a wood-fired oven; and it is predominantly either of the poppy “black” or sesame “white” seeds variety. It is ordered with the expression, “Give me a bagel, eh?”

The New York bagel contains salt and malt and is boiled in water prior to baking in a standard oven. The resulting New York bagel is puffy with a moist crust, while the Montreal bagel is smaller has a larger hole in the center, crunchier, and sweeter. The New York bagel is generally ordered in response to the bagel-seller’s question, “Hey, are you gonna order something or just stare at the menu all day?!”