A Short History of the Bagel

The day you had your first bagel was probably an important moment in the history of your life, but have you ever wondered about the history of the bagel? It’s now a breakfast (and sometimes lunch) staple, but the bagel once came from humble beginnings. Here’s a quick look at the history of the bagel—from its origins to how it became your favorite food item here at BCB.

1610: The earliest printed mention of the bagel happened in Poland in 1610. It was a part of a list of community regulations that insisted bagels be given to pregnant women.

1683: There’s another theory on the bagel’s origins. Some people say the breakfast pastry was invented by a baker who created a stirrup (or ‘beugal’) made as a way to honor the King of Poland for his help in defeating the Turks.

1872: Many claim that New York dairyman, William Lawrence, first introduced cream cheese to America this year.

1900: The exact date bagels made their way to the U.S. remains unknown, but by 1900, there were at least 70 bakeries on New York City’s Lower East Side. And the bread was definitely brought over by Eastern European immigrants who longed for a taste of their homelands.

1907: The International Beigel Bakers’ Union was established; at the time, it brought together nearly 300 bakers.

1927: Polish immigrant Harry Lender opened up Lender’s Beigel Bakery in West Haven, CT. The company’s main customers were Jewish delis in New York City.

1928: Kraft gained the rights to “Philadelphia Cream Cheese.” (Philadelphia is significant because the region was known for its high-quality dairy products during the time cream cheese gained its popularity.)

1962: After the business was taken over by Harry’s sons, Lender’s Beigel Bakers started perfecting the craft of flash freezing bagels, making them more easily available to supermarkets and grocery stores.

1984: Lender’s Beigel Bakery was bought out by Kraft, officially bringing together the perfect pair of bagel and cream cheese.

1998: Big City Bagel Café opened its first location and has been selling your favorite bagels, crepes, high-rise sandwiches, and beverages ever since!

Keep making bagel history and visit BCB Café today. You can explore our menu online or stop into one of our three locations to grab your favorite treat.