National Bagel Day is January 15. Bagels have a history that is richer than your favorite cream cheese spread! These rounds of dough can be found just about anywhere: breakfast joints, coffee shops, supermarkets, or even your kitchen pantry. In fact, 2018 saw more than 354 million bagels sold.
Bagels have a long and highly documented history that travels from the Jewish families of Poland in the 1600s to wrapped up in parchment paper in your hands today. And, unlike many things created nearly five-hundred years ago, bagels are remarkably unchanged. Sure, cream cheeses and butters and flavors and toppings may have evolved over time but bagel is a beigel is a beygal.
Bagels made the jump to America with a massive Polish-Jewish immigration in the 1800s that firmly entrenched itself in New York City where it thrived. In fact, an entire union was created in the early 1900s called Bagel Bakers Local 338 to support the growing, immigrant-led industry. That also begat the “bagel brunch,” that we still enjoy to this day with little to no changes: lox, cream cheese, capers, tomatoes, and red onions.
While bagels were hugely popular in New York City almost immediately, they didn’t make their way to the national scale until the mid 20th-century where automation and bread slicing (the coolest thing!) made mass manufacturing much more efficient. Since then, bagels have taken off to include a variety of flours, toppings, dips and smears but still remain – by and large – exactly as they were in the 1600s.
Who knew bagels had been around so long?
I love bagels by themselves in blueberrry, chocolate and cinnamon rasin flavors. I also love bagel samwiches.
I hope you celebrate the day with your choice of bagel.