Where do bagels come from? After doing an independent study into bagel history, here are two of my favorite origin stories: one from west and the other from the far east.
The Bagel of Helm's Deep
In 1683 the Ottoman empire sent an army of 200,000 to capture the city of Vienna. All hope seemed lost until Polish king Jan Sobeiski led history's largest cavalry charge, routing Ottoman forces. In gratitude, the bakers of Vienna poked holes in their breads so they could fit on the horn of a rider's saddle. They named their creation a beugel (aka bagel).
Bagels shape history
In 1563, General Jiguang's attempt to root out piracy from China's coastline met with little success. Somehow, the pirates always knew where he was and could evade his army. Eventually, he realized cooking fires were revealing his troops' location. So, he invented guang bing - a portable, bagel-like bread. Cooked underground -- no smoke -- it could be threaded around soldiers' necks for a snack on-the-go.