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March 11, 2008

Origin of the Everything Bagel


David Gussin of Long Island, New York claims to have invented it, according to Michael Schulman's "Talk of the Town" piece in the March 10, 2008 issue of the New Yorker.

Gussin wrote on his website that he created it about thirty years ago.

He told Schulman it was a "fluky-type thing."

    Wrote Schulman,

    When Gussin was fifteen, he took a part-time job at a takeout place in Howard Beach run by a guy named Charlie. It was a simpler time for bagels: you had plain, poppy, sesame, onion, salt, garlic, and — on the exotic end — cinnamon raisin. One of Gussin's duties at closing time was to sweep up the burnt seeds that had fallen off in the oven during the day. Gussin developed a taste for them, and one afternoon — "instead of throwing them out, like I always did, I swept them into a bin and said, 'Charlie, let's make some with these!'"

    Charlie, who was mildly enthusiastic about the idea, agreed to sell the newfangled bagels for a nickel extra. According to Gussin, the name "everything" came instantaneously. "There was no marketing meeting or anything like that," he said. "It was a one-second thought process. Boom."

    The flavor became popular "the next day" and pretty soon Gussin's brainchild — minus the burnt seed concept — had spread to a bagle place over in Lindenwood. Within a year, Gussin said, "the everything bagel was everywhere."

    Gussin never sought to capitalize on the everything bagel. "Admittedly, you think, Wow, what if I made a pennyoff of every everything bagel?" he said. But, realistically, who patented pizza? Who patented the bagel, you know? It never even entered my mind."

    So far, no one has contested Gussin's claim. When asked if he had any hard evidence, Gussin said simply, "It wasn't around the day before I created it, and it never stopped the day after." Maria Balinska, who is writing a book called "The Bagel: A Cultural History," hadn't heard of Gussin when she was reached by phone in London, but she affirmed that the early eighties was a fertile time for bagel experimentation. "You had more consumption of bagels nationwide," she said. "It was absolutely the right time to come up with something like that." She added that Gussin's creation has not yet caught on in England, proving, perhaps, that you can't have everything.


No sooner than did the New Yorker piece appear than none other than Seth Godin weighed on March 4, 2008 in to report that back in 1977, when he was working in a bagel factory, everything bagels were part of their regular production.

In his blog post Godin was careful not to claim he invented the everything bagel, only that he made them.

At 6:00 p.m. yesterday Erin Zimmer of seriouseats.com wrote that she'd just exchanged emails with Godin.

She wrote of his email, "Godin thought back to his creation moment — he just sprinkled and tossed the seeds on top. 'Lo and behold, it was good.' But since Godin's bagel shop was in Buffalo, not the Bronx, it's been overlooked by the bagel elite."

So it would appear from the chronology above that Godin has been overtaken by grandiosity in the six days between his blog post and yesterday's exchange with Zimmer, and now claims to be the inventor of the everything bagel.

Both Gussin and Godin are dreamers — everyone knows it was Al Gore.

March 11, 2008 at 04:01 PM | Permalink


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I myself have perfected the nothing bagel. It tastes like air.

Posted by: Milena | Mar 12, 2008 12:03:05 AM

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