How to Order a Bagel in New York City

Now what? Photo: Stan Honda/AFP via Getty Images

It happens with alarming regularity: Someone takes to social media to openly express their admiration for an unusual bagel order. Then, the New Yorkers pounce. They say things like, “The only acceptable bagel order is an everything bagel that’s exactly six minutes out of the oven at this one tiny bagel shop in, like Coney Island or Ridgewood or wherever. Everything else is total and utter garbage!”

But is there really a wrong way to order a bagel? For anyone who’s worried, Grub Street has put together this helpful FAQ.

I want to eat a bagel today, but I’m nervous.

What if I order wrong? Will I be ostracized and forced to live somewhere like Ohio, where I can enjoy my strawberry cream cheese in peace?
If you tweet about an unusual preference, you will be forced to endure unkind responses, but that is true of literally any topic you could imagine.

Twitter sounds like the worst!
It really is.

But okay, so I know plain bagels, sesame bagels, and everything bagels are acceptable. What about poppy seed? Or egg? It’s fun that they’re yellow!
Bagel shops wouldn’t make those flavors if people didn’t buy them. As the musician Sturgill Simpson once sang, “There’s a reason they make chocolate and vanilla, too.” Order whatever you want!

What if I want lox on a cinnamon-raisin bagel?
That combination still sounds weird to Grub Street, but if you like it, go for it!

I saw people criticizing de Blasio for liking toasted bagels!
It’s true. And yes, even Grub Street couldn’t resist dunking on the mayor’s apparent penchant for whole-wheat dough and lots of cream cheese. We rushed to judgement, but with the benefit of hindsight, it honestly seems fine. It’s possible that people on Twitter may have used the platform for low-stakes performative outrage instead of making an effort to be reasonable about an otherwise-benign comment.

Are you defending de Blasio?
Grub Street won’t defend his politics (impossible), or his personality (never met the guy!), only his right to enjoy a slightly unpopular food item without having to deal with a bunch of jerks telling him that something he likes is somehow wrong.

My kindergartner is obsessed with the phrase “don’t yuck my yum!” Is this the same principle?
Exactly. Even though 5-year-olds are able to grasp the concept innately, some of the more jaded, cynical residents of New York are happy to comment negatively on the food someone else likes. Especially if it’s bagels or pizza.

It seems like maybe people don’t like de Blasio’s bagel order because they don’t like de Blasio?
It’s true that if the chef David Chang confessed a love of toasted whole-wheat bagels, he’d likely be heralded as a champion of everyman tastes.

What if I like my bagel cut into big wedges that I can dunk into cream cheese?
Here’s the thing about the people who run bagel shops in New York: As long as you give them money in return for their products, they do not care — at all — about what you order. If they can accommodate a customer’s tastes, they probably will. Getting a “bread-sliced” bagel may require a bit of explanation on your part, but it does not immediately seem like an out-of-bounds request.

What about rainbow bagels?

Don’t yuck my yum!
You’ve got us there, and we have to admit that your love of brightly colored Instagram bait will have no bearing on our ability to continue enjoying sesame bagels with plain cream cheese. Go nuts!

How to Order a Bagel in New York City