The American Bagel:
Bagels found their way to America vis the Polish immigration of the late 1800's, but were popular only among the Polish Jews who settled in New York. Between 1910 and 1915 a Bagel Bakers' Local #388 union formed. Eventually, men who apprenticed to the first 300 bakers of that union moved to different parts of the country. In the early 1950's, the Broadway comedy, Bagels and Yox, played to standing-room-only-audiences, and bagels were distributed during intermission. Soon after, Time and Family Circle magazines ran recipes for "bageles."
Harry Lender, who had emigrated from Lublin, Poland, taking his cue from the interest generated by the magazine articles, converted his New Haven, Connecticut, bakery into a bagel bakery. In 1955, Lender and his son, Murray, packaged their bagels to sell to supermarkets.
In 1960, the first bagel-making machine, invented by Dan Thompson, was introduced. Add bagels had been made by hand before then. By 1962, the Lenders began freezing bagels and marketing them nationally.
Bagels began a known, traceable thread in their westward emigration in 1967. Eddie Kaye and Harold Block, who had been sent to the midwest by their New York garment inductry companies, and their wives, bemoaned their inability to buy bagels in this "hinterland outpost." In an interview, Kaye's wife, Sue, now living in Carlsbad, California, told me they contacted a New York friend whose father was an old time bagel baker and used his recipes to open their first bakery in Columbus, Ohio, called Hot Bagels, Inc. Following it's success they opened another in Cincinnati and hired John Marx, a former bouncer in a Cincinnati bar, as a manager.
Eventually Marx bought the bakeries, sponsored sports teams and athletic events, advertised on Tv and on the teams' tee shirts and his bagel bakery boomed. Marx, who is neither Polish or Jewish, currently operates three very successful Cincinnati bagel bakeries called Marx Hot Bagels Factory, Inc. Dba Marx Hot Bagels.
Occasionally John wears his Bagelman outfit, which he first designed in 1971, when he was invited to demonstrate how to hand roll bagels for a folk festival at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C.
Then Cbs's Charles Kuralt spent an entire day filming an "On the Road" sequence at Marx's tiny, but very busy, bakery. Marx now makes bagels in about 50 varieties. He also spends a lot of time in his red Bageman cap, shorts, cape and blue tights, speaking to schoolchildren about the importance of learing to read and staying in school.
With bagel bakeries opening everywhere today, their names are as varied as the flavors and assortment of spreads they offer. There are Baltimore Bagels, Garden State Bagels, Top-O-The-Bagel, I-N-Joy Bagels and others. The Bagel Boyz, operated by brothers from South Africa, is a aply on the words "bagel boys". In that country a bagel boy is a young man who is used to having everything and living in the lap of luxury. "As a child, my grandmother made bagels every Sunday morning, " explained Ben Lang, owner of Bagel Boyz in Encinitas, California. "Her bagels were very hard and chewy and tsted completely different from those we bake in America."
Bagels have become a favored food in far corners of the world. I noshed on them at the Hong Kong Bagel Bar. I found a bagel bakery doing a booming business near the University of Texas in Austin. In the past couple of years, five bagel bakeries have opened within a few miles of my southern California home. In Peoris, Illinois, I bought huge, soft bagels in a giant food discount store. The expression, "If it plays in Peopria, it will play anywhere, " apparently applies to bagels too.
The Best Bagels Are Made At Home by Dona Z. Meilach Isbn 1-55867-131-5