Trivially Speaking: Bagels have been around since the 17th century – Loveland Reporter-Herald

Posted By on June 27, 2021

The little rascals were a common feature on the break area sideboards of many of the business meetings at my former place of gainful employment. I am speaking here of bagels.

Fifty-some years ago, few Americans outside of those of Jewish extraction had ever tried a bagel.

Even if you were Jewish, it was difficult to find a bagelry outside a major metropolitan area.

Just to show you that things take a long time to cross the pond, bagels also spelled beigels are widely associated with Ashkenazi (no relation to Nazi) Jews from the 17th century.

The first mention in their present configuration was in Jewish community ordinances in Krakow, Poland in 1610. This doesnt count the fact that a bagel-like bread obwarzanek was around in Poland in 1394.

I am assuming here that you know a bagel is formed in a ring from yeasted wheat dough, boiled for a short time in water, then baked. The resultant creation is a doughnut-shaped delicacy with a dense, chewy interior and a browned and crispy exterior.

The little guys were so tasty that in the late 16th century and following, the bajgiel (note Polish spelling) became a staple of the area cuisine.

The name was derived from the Yiddish beygal, thence from the German dialect word beugel meaning ring or bracelet.

There was no patent on bageling so they appeared in the Brick Lane district and surrounding streets in London in the 1850s. In a clever approach to storage, the bagels were hung on vertical dowels and displayed in windows.

Immigrant Polish Jews brought bagels to the U.S., in particular New York City where Bagel Bakers Local 338 controlled the product and had contracts with bagel bakeries around the city for its workers.

Harry Lender sounds like a hirsute pawnbroker emigrated from Poland in 1927 and opened the first American bagel bakery outside of New York City.

Harry picked New Haven, Connecticut is Bagelry a major course of study at Yale? for his little enterprise and sold directly from his store as well as distributing the product to Jewish delis and grocery stores.

Bagels tend to go stale fast and dont travel well (a rolling bagel gathers no moss?) so Harrys market was limited geographically.

To address that issue, Harrys kids, Murray and Marvin, discovered that flash-freezing the bagels would keep them from going stale for months. Personally, I think redeeming a bagel flash frozen for months is not as rewarding as eating one fresh from a bakery.

However, coupling their technique along with softening the crunchy crust and chewy center made Lenders Bagels a hit with mainstream America.

Bagel purists grumbled at the modifications but most American gentiles didnt seem to care about the difference.

The Lenders sold out to Kraft in 1986 sensing a marriage with Kraft Philadelphia Cream Cheese, but Kraft proved to be a fickle lover and sold it to Kelloggs.

Important to note for those dietetically inclined is that in 1915 the average bagel in the U.S. weighed 3 ounces. They began to increase in the 1960s (as did many Americans) and by the early 21st century the average bagel weighed about 6 ounces.

Therefore, I typically have half of one for breakfast slathered with cream cheese and strawberry jam. Its a nice start to a writing day.

Incidentally, a tennis loss 6-0, 6-0 is called being bageled. I have few of those.

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Trivially Speaking: Bagels have been around since the 17th century - Loveland Reporter-Herald

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