Twitter was thrown into a frenzy when Alek Krautmann posted a photo on March 25 of more than a dozen helpless bagels sliced into pathetically thin wedges. He claimed that the “St. Louis secret” was “a hit” among his coworkers.
Perhaps the worst idea since diet water, this sacrilegious stunt has caused the internet to erupt into heated debate over the morality of both Krautmann and Panera Bread, who followed his order to a T in a case clearly demonstrative of a time when the customer was not right.
New Yorkers, famous for eating bagels properly, were justifiably outraged. The New York City Conflicts of Interest Board — which oversees the education of public servants about ethics laws — tweeted “stay out of new york” in response to Krautmann’s post.
After numerous angry tweets reporting Krautmann of a felony, the NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea tweeted in response, “Thank you for reporting this crime, but we only serve New York City, where this would NEVER happen.”
NYU students also expressed confusion and repulsion at the notion of slicing their bagels in any other fashion than a traditional slice down the middle.
“It’s unholy. That’s not how bagels are supposed to be sliced,” Liberal Studies first-year and bagel-lover Richard Focke said. “How would you toast your bagel? Would you toast each slice individually?”
CAS first-year Josephine Pernet, daughter of a Parisian bread maker and a self-certified bread expert herself, also had some astute questions.
“How are you ever going to put cream cheese on that?” Pernet said. “It’s just like the little appetizers, bagel crisps, but that’s not what we want in actual bagels.”
I attempted to find individuals who were either neutral or even supportive of the sliced bagel, however all were either vehemently opposed to the invention or too afraid to reveal their traitorous colors and be contemptuously looked down upon in disgust by their peers.
In order to understand why someone would dismember something so beloved by so many, I decided to go directly to the culprit, Panera, and order a dozen bagels — sliced.
Getting bagels at Panera in New York City is questionable in and of itself. However, for the sake of experimentation I decided to risk my reputation as a sane person.
Fully prepared to get arrested by the NYPD Food Crimes squad, I ventured into the Union Square location to pick up my order. For $6.99 I made an express order for a dozen bagels and a tub of cream cheese for $2.99. In the special requests section on the Panera app I explicitly stated “slice each bagel into 8 slices like bread.”
Unfortunately, they did not cut the bagels like I had wished and I was too ashamed to point out their mistake. I ended up slicing them on my own.
It was tortuous to say the least. Each incision into the bagels’ crusts made me cringe with disdain.
I clumsily grabbed one of my self-made bagel slices and awkwardly dipped it into a tub of cream cheese, an unusual movement for my body.
I took a bite and one thing was for certain. I was not eating a bagel. The taste was not affected, but the experience as a whole was diminished. The usual dense mouthful of bagel was reduced to a literal sliver of its former self. The slice was delicate, smaller than the palm of my hand. It was too dainty to be the bagel that I thought I knew.
The true essence of a bagel comes down to the way that it was meant to be enjoyed, right down to the shape. But don’t take my word for it. Take the dictionary’s.
“Bagel comes from the Old High German boug meaning ‘a ring.’ Please cut accordingly,” Dictionary.com tweeted in response to BagelGate.
Through this experiment, I rediscovered my love for bagels as savory circles of carbs that come round, fluffy and — most importantly — whole. It was considerate of Krautmann to share this “St. Louis secret” with the world, but some secrets just aren’t meant to be shared.
I suppose at least one thing to be grateful for is that he had enough decency to refrain from ordering them diced.
Email Arin Garland at [email protected]