Where Did the Bagel Come From?
We all love bagels. Cinnamon raisin, whole wheat, everything and poppy seed are just a few of the more popular bagel flavors you can find today, but when did people start baking and eating this great breakfast treat?
Some folklore would have us believe that bagels originated in 1683 when Poland’s King Jan III Sobieski defeated the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Vienna. As the story goes the bagel was created in the shape of a stirrup to commemorate the victory. However, in 1610 in the Polish city of Krakow, a precursor to the bagel was invented when Jewish people made what is called obwarzanek, a lean bread of wheat flour that was used in the celebration of Lent.
The bagel is purportedly to have been created as a competitor to the obwarzanek and in the first half of the 17th century the bagel became a fixture of the Polish diet. The word ‘bagel’ is derived from several predecessors including ‘bajgiel’, ‘beugal’ and ‘bugel’ although there is no definitive proof of where the name first originated. However, in the early 1600’s Jewish writer Leo Rosen penned a book called “The Joys of Yiddish” and in it appears the word ‘bajgiel’ which many consider first use of the term.
The popularity of the bagel would soon spread and by the 18th century people in Germany, Austria, England and France would be baking fresh bagels for their morning breakfasts. It is believed that bagels were first brought to the United States in the latter half of the 19th century by immigrating Polish Jews and found a thriving marketplace in New York City. Towards the end of the 20th century Harry Lender and his son Murray Lender began automated production and distribution of bagels and the rest, as they say, is history.