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St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

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No-Hole bagels? Is this a shanda or a trend? St. Louis bagel makers react


From the Yiddish, “Etlekhe zakhn ir nor ton nit balagan mit” which means “There are things you just don’t mess with,” our friends from Philadelphia Cream Cheese are “messing.”

Last month, the famed cream cheesers announced:

“Philadelphia is uniting North America’s most beloved bagel shops to put an end to holed bagels, once and for all. Introducing: “Philadelphia Bagel Wholes” – a limited-edition, no-hole bagel that gives fans more of what they love – bagel and schmear.”

Basically, the Philly folks believe their cream cheese needs more real estate and no-hole bagels are the answer. They also claim that customers are clamoring for more “surface area” for their cream cheese.

They even roped in renowned bagel shops including Utopia Bagels in New York, Steingold’s of Chicago, Starship Bagel Dallas, Rubinstein Bagels in Seattle and St-Viateur Bagel in Montreal to create their own signature no-hole bagels, which can be ordered online via Goldbelly.com from Utopia Bagels.

St. Louis bagel makers react

Notably, there are no St. Louis bagel shops participating in the no-hole bagel campaign, but we wanted to know what our town’s bagel makers thought of this “whole bagel” idea.

Jackie Polcyn, the General Manager at Union Bagel in Webster Groves expressed skepticism, stating, “As a bagel traditionalist, they are not desirable. While I do not disagree with the reasoning for obvious shmearing/sandwich reasons, no-hole bagels, in my opinion, are just improperly shaped bagels. A smaller hole is preferable, but a true bagel always has a hole.”

| RELATED: The Ultimate Guide to St. Louis Homemade Bagels

On the other hand, Alex Pifer of Baked and Boiled Bagels in Soulard sees potential benefits, explaining, “Actually, a good amount of our bagels turn out without holes, and as a crew, we have collectively tried to continue to achieve this. So far, we have found that the better the proof, the smaller the hole, making it easier to schmear in a hurry, especially when we are packed.”

Mike Heely of Bridge Bread in south St. Louis shared insights on the controversy surrounding no-hole bagels. “We do not make no-hole bagels, but I understand the appeal. We have commercial customers who may not want too big of a hole in the middle of the bagel because the toppings (cream cheese, mayo, etc.) may fall out. But some people on the internet feel the traditional bagels not only allow for more crusty surface area and shortens baking time, while others feel bagels are almost a religious experience, and to change that would be akin to a type of blasphemy.”

Over at Lefty’s in Chesterfield, co-owner Scott Lefton says they have customers ask for them all the time.

“There is a contingent of closed-bagel-hole lovers out there for sure. They make good sandwich bagels,” said Lefton. “For me however I’m a purist, a bagel by definition needs a hole in my humble opinion, but not too big a hole. A hole about the size of a dime is perfect. If you come to Lefty’s you can ask our clerks to find some that are ‘closed’ or close to closed.” 

What do you think?

The Jewish Light would love to know what you think about no-hole bagels. Would you like to see them on the menu at your favorite bagel shop? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below or send an email to [email protected].


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About the Contributor
Jordan Palmer
Jordan Palmer, Chief Digital Content Officer
Jordan worked at KSDK from 1995 to 2020. Jordan is a three-time Emmy award winner who produced every kind of show from news to specials during his tenure, creating Show Me St. Louis, The Cardinal Nation Show. He started ksdk.com in 2001 and won three Edward R. Murrow Awards for journalistic and website excellence in 2010, 2014 and 2020. Jordan has been married for 25 years and is the father of two college students. He is an avid biker, snowboarder, and beer lover. He created the blog drink314.com, focusing on the St. Louis beer community in 2015. Jordan has an incredible and vast knowledge of useless information and is the grandson of a Cleveland bootlegger.