Why Do Bagels Have Holes?

Once upon a time it served a purpose

There are quite a few explanations out there for the hole in the middle of a bagel, one of those foods that you absolutely need to try when in New York City. Some of them are more viable than others, and a couple theories are downright wild.

The 101 Most Iconic Restaurant Dishes in America

One less-wild theory is that the hole is there in order to make transporting and selling them easier. In the past, vendors threaded the circular breads onto dowels to hawk them on street corners. In fact, according to The New York Times, even up until the ’70s, most bagels were still distributed to American delis and supermarkets on rope or string. 

While this reason may be the most logical, it’s still fun to consider the other theories.

According to Dianna Daoheung, the executive chef and head baker of New York City's Black Seed Bagels (which has become one of New York City's most famed bagel shops), one theory posits that in the 1600s, a Polish baker invented bagels for a queen on the occasion of her son's birth; he modeled them after the many bracelets and bangles she wore. If you need further convincing, the words are even similar: bagel and bangle.


The origin of the hole in the bagel will most likely remain one of those unknowable food mysteries. But regardless of their origin, bagels (holes and all) are one of the most iconic breakfast foods in the United States.