The essay "Real New Yorkers Don't Toast Their Bagels" tackles the question of bagel-toasting with eight prominent bagelers and critics. Read the full interviews for more on bagels, cream cheese, and who has better bagels, New York or Montreal.
Bagel Boss. Long Islanders revel in it, and until recently when one opened in New York City, Manhattanites just heard tell. This family-owned business was started in 1976 in Hicksville on Long Island by Rosner brothers Jerry, Randy, and Adam. Their mother's family came from Poland in 1935 and started bageling in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The flagel? That was Adam's idea (trademarked). In this interview, Bagel Boss' owner and self-proclaimed 'flounder' talks New York vs. Montreal, his favorite place for a bagel other than at the Boss, toasting, and Jewish English Muffins.
New York or Montreal?
Well, I’m a New Yorker all the way, but I do understand that Montreal bagels are supposed to crunchy and delicious. I haven’t had the pleasure. Have your boy in Montreal send me some. If he wants to UPS me some I’d reciprocate. I‘m down. I’d be interested in taking a trip up there to learn his way.
What's your favorite kind of bagel: everything, sesame, pumpernickel, poppy, plain, etc.?
I’ve been asked this question by everyone, The New York Times, Newsday, the New York Daily News, and I’ve gotten lambasted for my answers. This time I’m going to say my favorite is the bialy.
Bialy or Flagle?
Flagel. You know you owns that, right? Do your research! I started that. Next.
Nova or lox?
I’m a nova, my wife’s a lox.
Sable or whitefish?
Favorite place for a bagel other than your own?
Hahaha, I don’t like your question. The guy who makes a good bagel other than me? Not to go the typical route I would say… I don’t like this question. Haha. I don’t even know. It’s sacrilegious. You know what I like? I like when I’m on vacation, and I’m in Puerto Rico or some place and I have a bagel there. The more people that eat ‘em and make ‘em the better. Eat ‘em in Costa Rica.
Who is your biggest competitor?
I would assume Dunkin’ Donuts is every bagel guy’s competition. Not because the product is good, but because of the amount of locations.
Some people swear by toasting. Others claim it destroys the integrity of the bagel. To toast or not to toast? Why?
Well, I gotta tell you… the purist, it may not be correct, but I’m a Jew at heart, and Jews love toast! [laughs] I do! I love toast, man. A toasted bialy is the Jewish English Muffin.
But you’re talking regular toast. How about bagels?
A plain bagel. Would I toast a bagel? I do.
Favorite type of cream cheese?
I’m a plain, vanilla guy.
What are your feelings about Temptee?
Temptee’s fine, but we blend our own.
What should never be a cream cheese flavor?
We’ve made some pretty wild ones, but I’m not a big caviar cream cheese guy.
Anything you notice differently about bagels now from those of your youth?
Well, listen, me and my brothers are all fifth generation bagel and bialy makers, so we’ve seen bagels made all different ways, but the bagel has changed with Thomas’ and Sara Lee, they’re all making soft roll bagels. It’s made more like a roll, soft. The traditional bagel has the crunchy outside.
If there's one question you wish you were asked more about bagels, what would it be?
That they're so good for you. Look better naked, eat more bagels! You know, they’re healthy man, they’re happy food. You feel good when you’re eating bagels.
a) A fan of the L.E.O.?
b) Leo who?
I’m a Jew! L.E.O.’s are great. We sell a ton of them.