Bagel History

Definition of a Bagel: A hard bread made of yeast dough twisted into a doughnut shape, cooked in simmering water, and then baked.

The exact origin of the bagel is debatable. The first printed material mentioning a bagel occurred in Krakow, Poland in 1610. The community regulations said that bagels were to be given to pregnant women as a gift during childbirth. Husbands would tell their wives to “Bite the Bagel.” Later on the mothers would use the Bagels as teething rings that the babies could easily hold, this practice is still widely used today. The Bagel is commonly considered a Jewish food but has no definitive association with this faith and was consumed by Christians as well. The bagel was popular in Europe among Jewish residents, but gained most of its popularity in America. New York and Chicago were the biggest promoters of the Bagel. In 1872, cream cheese was made and became a huge compliment for the already popular Bagel. In 1880, Philadelphia Cream Cheese was born. In 1927, Polish immigrant Harry Lender began Lender’s Beigel Bakery in West Haven, Connecticut. His customers were mainly NY delis. It was his sons, Murray and Marvin, who introduced the ideas of flash freezing the Bagels and sending them nationwide.

Today Bagels are offered on a variety of flavors from the ever popular poppy and sesame to the unique blueberry and sun dried tomato. The pioneers of the bagel industry would most likely be appalled by the ever famous everything Bagel. In the beginning of the Bagels history a bagel was served only one way, pure, with no toppings at all. The popularity of the Bagel is easily justified in its portability, a more satisfying alternative to the sandwich, and the never ending possibilities of spreads, ranging from the ever popular cream cheese to the meal making chicken salad.
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