Who invented the everything bagel?

The seed and spice blend that tops the everything bagel has taken on a life of its own. You can find it at Trader Joe’s and in tons of recipes that in no way resemble a bagel. Inquiring minds may wonder who was the genius who invented the everything bagel? Since it has only been around for a few decades, one would surmise that the inventor would be easy to find, but it turns out that the answer is not clear at all.

No fewer than four people are credited with inventing the everything bagel, including restaurateur Joe Bastianich, son of chef and restaurant mogul Lidia Bastianich. The Taste Cooking article includes interviews with the four people, each explaining why they believe they did (or in one case, did not) invent the seed coating. Most of the stories are from the mid to late 1970s, although Brandon Steiner says his version was invented around 1971, when he was only twelve years old but working in a bagel factory.

Of course, as pastry chef Melissa Weller points out, “Isn’t it possible that all three or four people came up with the idea on their own?” In the book The Bagel: The Surprising History of a Modest Bread, Maria Balinska writes about how bagels were only sold directly to the public beginning in the early 1980s, and this may have spurred bakeries to get creative with their toppings. As with most origin stories, things gets murky when you try to find “the one” person who invented it.

Even though we may never know definitively who invented the everything bagel, we do know that the seed and spice blend, with its salty crunch is wonderful on any number of items beyond the bagel. Some people enjoy it as a topping for hummus, they put it on other baked goods like English muffins, and some folks like to throw it on their eggs in the morning. You can find dozens of recipes for making and using everything bagel spice in the EYB Library.

Photo of Everything bagel seasoning from Savory Simply by Jennifer Farley

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