Bagels originated in 1683, when Jewish baker created them as a gift to the reigning Polish king. The round shape was meant to resemble a riding stirrup, bugel in German as riding was the king’s hobby.
Until the mid 1900s, bagels continued to be consumed largely by Jewish Americans, who clung to the bread and its Old World associations even as the immigrant themselves became increasingly assimilated.
Bagels slowly gained popularity but continued to be rare in United States. According to food historian John Mariani, the first mention of bagel in United States was in 1932.
The US bagel industry took off in New York City between 1910 and 1915 with unionization of bagel bakers. In 1907 the International Beigel Baker’s Union was created, joining together three hundred bagel bakers.
The popularity of bagels spread beyond urban centers when Polish baker Harry Lender opened the first bagel plant outside of New York City in 1928 in New Haven, Connecticut. When Murray Lender joined his father’s bagel business in 1955, he started making bagels a mainstream food item by packaging bagels to sell in supermarkets.
In 1984 Kraft purchased Lender’s as a corporate companion for its Philadelphia brand cheese. All over the country, consumers could now buy a totally standardized, mass produced bagel under the Lender’s label.
By the 1990s, Americans were consuming a large quantity of bagels, spending more money on them which was estimated $900 million than on doughnut ($500 million).
Bagel in United States
As bagel chains proliferated throughout the United States, bagels lost their Jewish identity, becoming instead a New York food.
History of bagel in America