If you look online, you’ll find quite a few explanations for the hole in the middle of a bagel. Things like if it didn’t have hole it would be a roll and the holes mean more crust for the same amount of dough and this is how they made it in the old country!
However, while some of these are accurate facts about the carb that conquered American breakfast, none of them is the real reason why practically every bagel — whether it’s from Thomas’ Breads or from your local bakery — has a hole. One likely reason has to do with the way that bagels were originally sold.
In the past, vendors threaded the circular breads onto dowels to hawk them on street corners. In fact, according to a 2009 Q&A about bagels in The New York Times, even up until the ’70s most bagels were still distributed to American delis and supermarkets on rope or string.
While that logistical reason for our bagels’ vacant centers seems likely, it’s still fun to consider the other stories. One piece in The Atlantic suggests that, for people in “the old country” (specifically the areas in Eastern Europe where bagels originated), the bread’s round shape was meant to bring good luck in childbirth and symbolize a long life. It was pretty lucky for America that those Eastern European immigrants brought bagels with them when they immigrated. Since then, bagels (holes and all) have become one of the most iconic foods in the United States!