Opinion: Bagel, shmagel


When I stepped inside a New York deli recently, I witnessed something peculiar. People weren’t eating traditional bagels — those rings of hockey-puck-shaped dough that have been boiled and then baked to a perfect brownish sheen. Instead, they were eating something called a flagel, also known as a shmagel.  Shmagel/flagel, whatever. They looked delicious.

These bagels have been shmooshed (Yiddish for “flattened”) into the size of 45 rpm records before being put in the oven. One flagel or shmagel might not always fill up your stomach, but it pretty much fills up your plate.

Some diners spread cream cheese over the top; others tried to slice the flagel the normal way, a risky maneuver given that flagels are half the height and twice the diameter of bagels. Some people were also putting lox on top, right over the onions or poppy seeds, or any of the 22 varieties.

There are websites dedicated to flagels, and other sites by people who want nothing more than to shmear the good name of bagel purveyors.  One woman complained: “Flagels were invented 20 years ago, and I may have gotten one of those originals this morning.”

Here’s another comment:

“I really liked them. Do they have fewer calories than the regular bagels?”

Yes, and a pound of matzo weighs less than a pound of corned beef.

I dug deeper online to further educate myself about flagels. Where were they invented? And how had I missed out on this earth-baking sensation prior to last week?

One site warned of the side effects of digesting this product, including headache, stomach cramps and irritability. I grew up in a home where everyone felt this way after every meal. Oops, sorry! I was reading a website that came up about the antibiotic Flagyl, not flagels.

When I got back home to Indy, I wondered if I could figure out a way to bring flagels to the Midwest and make a lot of money. Actually, I don’t think I’m smart enough. But some Einstein will figure it out.