Bagels – there’s something immensely satisfying about biting into a chewy, doughy bagel, or popping one in the toaster for a crunchy and satisfying snack, which is why we weren’t surprised to find out that there’s a whole day dedicated to their deliciousness.
National Bagel Day pays homage to this dense and delectable bread, celebrating the diverse range of bagels now available and the history of a type of bread that is over 600 years old! Salmon, cream cheese, salad, peanut butter, banana, and chocolate spread – there are thousands of possible toppings that you can put on a bagel to take it from day to night, breakfast to lunch and a snack to dinner but one thing must always stay the same – the bagel must be round.
If you’ve got a bagel in the freezer or the cupboard already then take five minutes to make yourself a bagel snack with which to enjoy the rest of this post.
Intriguing bagel facts
- Bagel, Biegel, Bougel – what?
If you see the word beigel, then it’s not a typo, bagels are also known as beigels, it’s just the old fashioned spelling. The name bagel itself also comes from the German for ‘bracelet’, which translates to ‘bougel’ – it makes sense when you think about it.
- Bagels must always be round with a hole in the middle
Bagels can be many things but they must always be round with a hole, a non-round bagel or one without a hole is just a piece of boiled dough!
- Plain remains the favorite bagel flavor
Although there are now hundreds of different flavored bagels, the most popular flavor is still plain – we imagine this is because it allows the flavor of the filling to shine through the best. If people aren’t tucking into a plain bagel, then the next most popular flavor is sesame.
- Bagel dough is boiled
Unlike most loaves of bread, bagels are actually boiled before they are baked, this gives them their unique chewy texture.
- Bagels have been to space!
Bagels are now so well-travelled that they’ve even made their way into space! In 2008 18 sesame bagels were taken as an astronaut’s personal cargo to the international space station. Bagel making used to be a four-man job
Bagel making is not an easy task and it is a well-known fact that traditional bagel-making used to be so complex that it required 4 people to bake a single batch.
History of National Bagel Day
The exact date that National Bagel Day began is a little hazy, but it’s generally agreed that the day was first celebrated somewhere towards the beginning of the early 2000s. Although National Bagel Day may have only been around since the turn of the Millenium, bagels themselves have been around for many years, more than 600 to be exact.
That’s right, bagels aren’t a modern bread product, they’ve been around since the 14th century and were first recorded as being handed out to women who had just undergone childbirth in Poland (definitely one of the tastier push presents you could be given).
From the 16th Century onward bagels became a staple bread product in the Slavic diet, eventually heading to Europe and the United States in the 19th Century. But even then, bagels struggled to reach the mainstream market because they were often hand made in small batches and were typically only found in niche Jewish stores.
It wasn’t until the 1970’s when ‘ethnic’ food became more popular, that the rest of the country realized what they’d been missing and bagels hit the big time. It may have taken almost 500 years for bagels to leave Poland and to travel to the US and Europe but it only took 10 year’s for them to become a mass-produced product and when Lender’s Bagels began marketing their frozen pre-sliced bagels to customers through TV and magazine advertising they took off as a household staple.
Today, Lender’s Bagels are now owned by Kraft, the vast majority of bagels are made by machines, not by hand, and bagels are a multi-billion dollar industry enjoyed by both young and old for breakfast, lunch and even for dinner. Who knows where bagels could be in ten year’s time!
National Bagel Day Timeline
Bagel likely evolves from German pretzel
While the origins of bagels are not completely clear, it is thought that they develop from German immigrants who would eventually reshape them from pretzel twists into the round shape of bagels.
International Bagel Bakers’ Union forms
Founded to protect those who make a living baking bagels, particularly in New York City, this union eventually controls every bagel bakery in the city and even has ties to the mafia.
First Einstein Brothers’ bagel store opens
Featuring fresh baked bagels all day long, the chain opens its first store in Ogden, Utah, and will eventually become the largest bagel chain in the United States.
Bagels overtake donuts in US popularity
This year, Americans will spend more than three-quarters of a billion dollars on bagels, but only half a billion dollars on donuts.
How to celebrate National Bagel Day
Is there really any question as to how you should celebrate National Bagel Day? Of course, you need to have yourself a bagel. Breakfast bagels, pizza bagels, cream cheese bagels, or even sweet chocolate chip bagels – however, you like to enjoy your bagel, make sure you have at least one on National Bagel Day. If you’re looking to celebrate National Bagel Day with something a little more outside the box or you’re simply a top tier bagel fan, then here are a few other things that you could try:
- The 3 meal challenge. If you’re up to the task then go all out and have a bagel inspired dish for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Will you go sweet or will you go savory? Maybe you’ll have half and half of each – who knows, go wild, enjoy your bagels, it’s National Bagel Day!
- Host a bagel party. If you’re at work or have a group of bagel loving friends, then host a bagel-making party with your fellow bagel-lovers and lay out a spread of everyone’s favorite toppings. Maybe you’ll be introduced to a new filling combination? If not, you’ll still get to enjoy some delicious bagels and your friends can get in on the action too.
- Try your hand at making bagels. Most of our bagels may now be mass-produced by machines but pre-1970 all bagels were carefully crafted by hand! They may not be quite as round as those that you can get from the grocery store, but we bet they’re just as tasty!
However, you choose to celebrate National Bagel Day, what’s important is that you take a moment to think about the long history of this versatile chewy bread and how far it’s come from its humble origins as a post birthing snack in Poland.