A Bagel for the Ages

The “everything” bagel seems like one of those happy accidents that might have popped into existence simultaneously anywhere in the world (well, anywhere there are bagels). According to this week’s New Yorker however, the invention of the everything bagel has been claimed by one David Gussin, who says:

It was the late 1970’s, possibly early 80’s; I was working at a bagel store in Queens N.Y. The owner of the store was Charlie, a big man with big hands from rolling all those bagels. At that time, you had your standard bagels–plain, poppy, sesame, onion, garlic, salt, pumpernickel, the exotic bagel of the time was cinnamon-raisin. Anyway, at the end of the day one of my jobs was sweeping out the oven. I’d sweep out the roasted seeds that had fallen off the bagels over the course of the day. Those were my favorites, the well done ones. One day, instead of sweeping them up and throwing them out like I had always done, I saved them. I asked Charlie to make some bagels with these (the concoction of burnt leftover seeds) ... we’ll call it, The Everything Bagel. It was an immediate hit. Charlie even started charging a nickel more for it. Before you knew it, the Everything Bagel was everywhere.

That’s his story, and he’s sticking to it. Marketing blogger and entrepreneur Seth Godin, however, thinks Gussin’s story is full of holes. He remembers working in a bagel factory in 1977, and making everything bagels, so clearly they’d been around for a while by then. Maybe, he implies, he even invented them himself. In an email to Serious Eats, Godin pointed out an inconsistency in Gussin’s story: You wouldn’t add the burnt seeds to your fresh bagels, he says, “you add the seeds when the bagels are on the wet burlap…the burnt seeds in the oven get pretty incinerated and you wouldn’t want to use em.”

So, is Godin ready to fight for the right to schmear his name on the everything bagel? Nah. On Grub Street, he says he doesn’t even like them.