Bagels with cream cheese and lox are considered a traditional part of American cuisine, especially so if you're a New Yorker. Bagels were brought to America by Polish Jewish immigrants.

However, as far back as the middle of the nineteenth-century bagels were being made, sold and eaten in London, England. Displayed in bakery windows, bagels were stacked up to three feet high on racks, in the Brick Lane district of London and the surrounding areas.

You don't have to be Jewish

I am not Jewish, but that's the beauty of a bagel, you don't have to be. I am, however, a native New Yorker and cannot remember one Sunday Morning without driving to Ben's Deli and picking up a dozen bagels.

We would actually get a baker's dozen, thirteen, an extra bagel of your choosing if you purchased one dozen. Of course, the trip would never be complete without buying cream cheese, lox, and the Sunday New York Times.

Eastern European immigrants

New Yorker's were introduced to bagels with the arrival of Eastern European immigrants. Craving the tastes and flavors of the old country, immigrants began baking rye, challah, and bagel bread so they could enjoy the foods of their home.

However, it wasn't until the 1970's that the bagel emerged from the mostly Jewish niche markets, and ethnic foods became a trend in the U.S. Through amusing television commercials, Lenders, a family named business started advertising their frozen bagels.

The Lender's family called it, "the Jewish English muffin."

Bagelmania takes off

Once bagelmania took off in America, chains were opening up everywhere and replacing, in many areas, the doughnut shops of the earlier part of the twentieth-century.

Because bagels weren't marketed as "Jewish" and weren't sold in the kosher section of markets, they probably did better than other typically ethnic foods at that time.


The bagels basic roll-with-a-hole design is hundreds of years old. Besides providing for an evener cooking and baking dough, there are practical advantages to its shape.

Back in Poland, the hole made it easy to string through groups of bagels which made transporting and displaying them much easier.

Different type of sandwich bread

As sandwich loving American's we adapted quickly to the bun with a doughnut like shape. Different enough to be interesting, but not so different it seemed exotic.

There are first-class bagels to be found throughout American towns, all claiming to be the best. If you don't want to take their word for it, why not take a road trip and find out for yourself.

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