The History of the Bagel

The History of the Bagel

Thanks to technology, you can order our delicious New York bagels online and have them shipped directly to your door – anywhere in the country. There was, of course, a time not so long ago, when if you weren’t in New York, you couldn’t enjoy NY bagels

But as hard as it is to imagine, before that, there was actually a time when people had to live their lives without any kind of bagels at all!

Amanda Fiegl, writing a review of Maria Balinska’s book titled, “The Bagel: The Surprising History of a Modest Bread” for Smithsonian Magazine, says that she came to a frightening realization: “I narrowly avoided a horrifying fate: If I’d been born a few years earlier, I might have suffered a bagel-less childhood (at least in rural Vermont),” she wrote.

A Deliciously Satisfying Read

Balinska’s book tells the story of the bagel’s journey from the tables of 17th-century Poland to breakfast tables across America today. Balinska, an editor of BBC Radio’s World Current Affairs department as well as a journalist and documentary maker specializing in Eastern Europe and the United States who lives in London, does a great job of connecting the history of the bagel to centuries of Polish, Jewish and American history.

Among the historic highlights in the book are: 

  • the bagel’s links with the defeat of the Turks by Polish King Jan Sobieski in 1683
  • the Yiddish cultural revival of the late nineteenth century
  • Jewish migration across the Atlantic to America. 
  • the role of the bakeries of New York’s Lower East Side 
  • the impact of Bagel Bakers’ Local 388 Union in the 1960s


“For all its modest size,” the publisher says, “the bagel has managed to bridge cultural gaps, rescue kings from obscurity, charge the emotions, and challenge received wisdom. Maria Balinska weaves together a rich, quirky, and evocative history of East European Jewry and the unassuming ring-shaped roll the world has taken to its heart.”

If you are among the many who can’t imagine life without the pleasures of sinking your teeth into a freshly baked New York bagel, give us a call at 516-797-4840.

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