Food Snark

The Disputed History of the Bagel

June 4, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Written by Samuel Phineas Upham

Tracing the origins of the bagel can be difficult. Traditionally considered part of Jewish cuisine, there is new evidence suggesting that the bagel’s true origins lie in Italy.

Bagel is related to the German word “beigen,” which translates to “to bend.” In the traditional lore, the bagel descends directly from the pretzel. During the thirteenth century, there were several Jewish communities that sprang up in Poland. The people had settled there by invitation, and most likely brought a bread called “biscochos” with them. It is baked like a bagel, and even has the tell tale hole in the middle. Yet, if legend holds true then this bread would be as old as the Romans. The most direct historical link to this theory is the defeat of the Turks in the 1600s.

Yet, examining the Yiddish “beygal” reveals that the Jews didn’t add this to common vernacular until 73 years after the Turks were defeated.

Thus, while the bagel is delicious its origins are difficult to pinpoint.

Meanwhile, in 1950s New York, a growing tradition of Jewish fathers begin buying bagels on Sunday mornings to give their wives time to sleep in and skip breakfast preparations. This is part of why lox and cream cheese is so popular today, but the bagel is now a pop culture symbol. You can buy bagels at Dunkin Donuts and other major retailers, or eat a bagel sandwich courtesy of Burger King.

Samuel Phineas Upham

Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Samuel Phineas Upham on his Samuel Phineas Upham website.

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