Bagels are one of the tastiest things to come out of the Jewish diaspora. But one’s preferences for what constitutes a great bagel are incredibly varied and individualistic. It is important to declare one’s preferences boldly and loudly when discussing bagels so that all the foundational preferences may be laid bare. Here are mine:

  1. Thou shalt always toast one’s bagel. I don’t really give a fuck how hot it is outside or how fresh the bagels might be, in order to reduce the chewy factor and provide a satisfactory crunch you should always toast your bagels before applying schmear.
  2. Bagels are descendants of bread, not cake. I don’t want to eat a 900 calorie pound cake for breakfast every morning. Bagels should retain the lightness of a good, white bread and eschew any notion of a dessert food. A bagel in the morning shouldn’t put me in a coma before I even get going with my day.
  3. The “hole” is a primary characteristic of a bagel. The NYT described bagels in 1946 as a “hole with a roll around it”. There is an optimal relationship between the diameter of the bagel and the diameter of the hole. And as far as I can determine, the hole’s diameter should be roughly equal to one third of the diameter of the entire bagel.
  4. Schmear it on, but be mindful of proportions. It would be foolish to eat bagels that are void of cream cheese, but at the same time I’m not trying to eat a full day’s worth of dairy on my bagel. There’s no golden rule for the application of schmear, its more an art than a science. But the general idea is to remember that bagels can’t actually hold that much topping.
  5. Don’t be stingy, either. One of the most disappointing things is to get a bagel with just a single knife-spread of schmear, though this generally happens at places you shouldn’t be eating bagels from anyway. Schmear is not sour cream and you’ll need way more than a dollop.


I wanted to rate each bagel with a high-level rating. Here is the scale, from bad to better:

  • Disappointing
  • Meh
  • Decent
  • Good
  • Life-changing


Text is awesome, but if you want to get at the raw JSON feel free. Just make sure to share your creation with me :)