Who Invented the Bagel? And Why?
Many Americans would respond bagels are a vibrant part of Jewish culture and were brought over with them from Europe. But who actually invented bagels? And why?
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). Ironically, unknown to the Viennese, the Ottomans already had their own version of the bagel: Ka'ak.
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.
Putting the lore to the side, here are the six ancestors of the modern bagel, arranged in a timeline along with a recipe (click picture) for each.