There is some debate amongst historians about the origin of bagels. There are numerous etiologies of the word bagel. In Yiddish, it was beygel, from the Middle High German bouc and Old High German boug, both meaning a ring or bracelet. Another possible origin is from the German word bügel, for a round loaf of bread.
imgSome historians credit a Viennese baker for creating the bagel to commemorate the victory of Polish King Jan III Sobieski over the Turks in 1683. The bread was formed into the shape of a buegel or stirrup, because the liberated Austrians had clung to the king's stirrups as he rode by.
Some cultures regard the circular shape as the continuous life cycle and good luck.
The art of bagel-making used to be a closely-guarded secret. The International Beigel Bakers' Union was founded in New York City in 1907 (now disbanded), with the regulations permitting only sons of members as apprentices.
By Peggy Trowbridge Filippone