The Strange History of Bagels

Dated: August 14 2020

Views: 240

The Strange History of Bagels

 The Strange History of Bagels

According to the Einstein Bros. Bagel chain, the first bagel was created in 1863 by a Jewish baker in Vienna, Austria. As a way to thank the king of Poland for protecting Austria from Turkish invaders, the baker created a hard roll in the shape of a riding stirrup to honor the king's prowess as a horseman. "Stirrup" is "bugel" in German.

Bagels became popular in Poland, where they were often given as gifts to new mothers for use as baby teething rings. Bagels made their way to Russia, where they were called "bub-liki," and in the 1880s, when waves of Eastern European immigrants came to America, bagels did too. Here are a few more bagel facts:

For the uninitiated, "just a schmear" is what you tell your bagel guy when he's about to slap a half pound of cream cheese on your bagel. "Just a schmear" means no, I'd like less than a quarter inch slab of cream cheese.

Bagels originally, and many still today, are made with lye. Yes the lye that burns and was once used to make soap. Why it is sometimes added to bagels? Lye is sodium hydroxide, which is very alkali, corrosive and toxic on its own. When a bagel or pretzel dipped in lye solution goes into the oven, the lye reacts with the carbon dioxide given off by steam from the dough and forms a benign carbonate, which makes the bagel safe to eat. The lye browns the dough, giving a distinctive color and flavor, especially noticeable in pretzels.

Many bagel makers substitute baking soda for lye, but purists say it’s not the same.

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