The Origin Behind Bagels’ Central Hole Throughout History

The Historic Reason Bagels Have A Hole In The Center: Unveiling the Culinary Mystery

Bagels are a beloved breakfast staple around the world, but have you ever wondered why they have that distinctive hole in the center? This seemingly simple yet intriguing question has intrigued bagel enthusiasts for decades. To unveil the historic reason behind this fascinating culinary phenomenon, we must dive into the history and origins of bagels. Join us on this journey as we unravel the mystery of why bagels have a hole in the center.

The Origins of Bagels: A Trip Back in Time

The tradition of making bagels can be traced back to the Jewish communities of Poland during the 16th century. Initially, bagels were popular among Jewish families for their circular shape, as it symbolized unity and eternity within their culture. But it wasn’t until the 17th century that the iconic hole in the center made its debut.

An “Age-Old” Problem of Boiling Bagels

The hole in the center of bagels can be directly attributed to a technique that arose due to a unique problem faced by bakers of that time. In order to achieve the distinctive chewy texture that bagels are known for, the dough is boiled before baking. However, boiling the dough without a hole would result in an unevenly cooked center.

The Netting Technique: An Ingenious Solution

To overcome this issue, bakers began using a technique called the “netting” method. This involved poking a hole through the center of the bagels before boiling them. The hole allowed the water to penetrate the dough evenly, ensuring a consistent texture throughout. The technique not only solved the cooking problem but also gave birth to the characteristic appearance that bagels are known for today.

The Benefits of the Hole: Practical and Aesthetic

The hole in the center of bagels serves both practical and aesthetic purposes. From a practical standpoint, the hole allows for more efficient cooking. It allows the inside of the dough to cook evenly, reducing the likelihood of a raw center. Additionally, the hole acts as a vent, preventing the bagel from becoming too dense or doughy during the baking process.

On the aesthetic side, the hole is not only visually appealing but also plays a role in the bagel’s overall texture and taste. The exterior crust is crisp and golden, while the interior remains soft and chewy. It creates the perfect balance of textures, making each bite of the bagel a delightful experience.

The Influence of Migration on Bagel Traditions

As Jewish communities migrated across the world, the bagel made its mark on different cultures and cuisines. From Europe to America and beyond, the traditional Jewish bagel evolved and adapted to local flavors and preferences. While the hole in the center remained a constant feature, the variety of toppings and fillings expanded exponentially, making bagels a truly versatile and global treat.

American Bagels: A Cultural Icon

In particular, the migration of Jewish communities to America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries played a significant role in popularizing the bagel. New York City became a hub for bagel production, with bakeries sprouting up across the city, each putting their own unique spin on the traditional recipe. Today, the bagel has become an iconic symbol of American culinary culture, enjoyed by people of all backgrounds.


The historic reason why bagels have a hole in the center lies in the techniques developed by Jewish bakers in Poland centuries ago. The need to achieve a consistent texture and even cooking led to the ingenious “netting” method, resulting in the distinctive appearance we know and love today. The hole has not only proven practical for cooking purposes but has also become an integral part of the bagel’s aesthetic appeal. So the next time you bite into a delicious, chewy bagel, remember the centuries of culinary evolution behind that iconic hole in the center!


Avi Adkins

Avi Adkins is a seasoned journalist with a passion for storytelling and a keen eye for detail. With years of experience in the field, Adkins has established himself as a respected figure in journalism.

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