Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Jodie . Jodie Wonders, “Why does a bagel have a hole in the middle?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Jodie !
Your alarm goes off and you roll out of bed with a big stretch and a yawn. Sadly, it's a Monday and that means your weekend is over and it's back to your usual routine. Oh well, it's time to hit the kitchen for a healthy breakfast to start the day.
On your way downstairs, you begin to brighten up a bit when you remember what your mom bought at the grocery store yesterday. It's your favorite round treat with a hole in the middle. Is it a donut? Nope! It's a bagel!
Many people trace the history of the bagel back to a popular Polish legend. According to the old tale, bagels were invented in 1683 as a tribute to Polish King Jan Sobieski, who successfully fought off Turkish invaders to save the city of Vienna.
Historians, however, point out that round breads with a hole in the middle have been around for centuries. This makes sense since round breads with a hole in the middle are easy to put on a string or a stick for transport or storage.
Some of these ancient bagel precursors include taralli and ciambelle from Italy and girde from China. However, the oldest bagel-like treat may date all the way back to the ancient Egyptians.
Eastern European immigrants brought the bagel to the United States in the mid- to late-1800s. They were particularly popular with Jewish immigrants. For many years, though, they remained primarily an ethnic specialty that was mainly popular in places like New York City, which had a large Jewish population.
Today, bagels are hugely popular and aren't usually considered an ethnic food. When did they become so mainstream? Historians point to the 1970s when a family named the Lenders began mass marketing their brand of frozen bagels.
Lender's Bagels became so popular that Kraft Foods bought the company in 1984. Many believed this was a natural fit, since Kraft also makes Philadelphia cream cheese, a popular bagel topping. By the mid-1990s, bagels were a multibillion dollar industry in the United States.
Today, grocery stores offer a wide variety of fresh and frozen bagels. In addition, there are many specialty bagel bakeries all over the country.
Bagels can now be found in a stunning variety of flavors, including plain, salt, garlic, sesame seed, onion, egg, poppy seed, pumpernickel, sun-dried tomato, asiago, cheddar, cinnamon raisin, blueberry, chocolate chip, and everything (usually a mixture of salt, garlic, onion, sesame seed, and poppy seed).
If you've ever eaten a bagel, you know they have a unique chewy crust and dense interior. The key to making bagels this way is boiling them before baking. Boiling them for 30-60 seconds on each side sets the crust before they go into the oven.
With a set crust, bagels don't rise very much in the oven, giving them a dense interior. The longer they're boiled before going in the oven, the thicker and chewier the crust will be.