Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Daniel Thompson, Inventor of the Bagel Machine

A fascinating obituary, including a history of how bagels became mainstream:

Daniel Thompson Dies; Invented Bagel Machine

Daniel Thompson with his father in a wonderful kitchen, 1970, from the NYT.
(Aside: I still have a step-stool just like the one at right, only mine is red.)
Quotes from the article:
"Mr. Thompson’s machine proved to be a mirror of midcentury American history. For bound up in the story of its introduction is the story of Jewish assimilation, gastronomic homogenization, the decline of trade unionism, the rise of franchise retailing and the perennial tension between tradition and innovation. ...
"The tough, round heart of North American Jewish cuisine, with European roots reaching back hundreds of years, the bagel was until the mid-1960s available only in cities with thriving Jewish neighborhoods, most emblematically New York. Its shape — which sprang from dough that was rolled by hand, coiled into rings and boiled in a kettle before being baked in a wood- or coal-fired oven — was said to symbolize the circle of life. 
"Such bagels, prized by purists but increasingly difficult to find now, were known for an earthy taste, an elastic crumb and a glossy, dauntingly hard crust born of their turn in the kettle."

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