Contact: Suzanne M. Holroyd or Marie A. Casey at Casey Communications, Inc., 314/962-0944, or Dee Wetzel at Schnuck Markets, Inc., 314/994-4608.

May 28, 1997

The History of Bagels

According to legend, the world's first bagel was produced in 1783 as a tribute to Jan Sobieski, King of Poland. The king, a renowned horseman, had just saved the people of Austria from an onslaught by Turkish invaders. In gratitude, a local baker shaped yeast dough into the shape of stirrup to honor him and called it the Austrian word for stirrup, beugel. The roll soon became a hit throughout Eastern Europe. Over time, its shape evolved into a circle with a hole in the center and its named was converted to its modern form, bagel.

1880s -- Hundreds of thousands of Eastern European Jews emigrated to America, bringing with them a love for bagels. New York City vendors used the bagel's hole-in-the-middle shape to their merchandising advantage by threading them onto dowels and selling them on street corners throughout the city.

1907 -- The International Bagel Bakers Union was founded in New York City. Only sons of union members could be apprenticed to learn the secrets of bagel baking in order to safeguard the culinary art.

1927 -- Polish baker Harry Lender opened the first bagel plant outside New York City in New Haven, Conn. The bagel's popularity began to spread in the United States.

1960s -- Bagel production skyrocketed as machines capable of producing 200 to 400 bagels per hour were popularized and the tradition of hand-forming bagels virtually vanished.

1987 -- Bagels made their way into mainstream America, sold around the country in grocery stores and listed as standard items on fast food menus.

1988 -- Americans were eating an average of one bagel per month.

1993 -- American bagel consumption doubled to an average of one bagel every two weeks.

1997 -- Schnucks' Nancy Anne Bakery introduced 17 bagels reformulated to match the special tastes and texture desires of Midwesterners, along with six cream cheese spreads, four types of bagel melts and eight bagel sandwiches.