15 February 1944, Troy (NY) Record, “Bagel Mystery Baffles Police,” pg. 1, col. 3:
New York (AP)—The theft of a truckload of 1,560 bagels yesterday confronted police with a mystery—they wanted to know what a bagel was.
Sam Elder, of Fisher’s Bagel Bakery, explained. He said a bagel was a roll with a hole in the middle. Some people like them for breakfast.
Bagel bakers renegotiated their contracts every year. And if they didn’t get what they wanted, they went on strike, plunging the city into what the Times called “bagel famine.” In December 1951, 32 out of 34 bagel bakeries closed, leaving shelves bare and sending lox sales shooting down by as much as 50 percent. Normally, the city’s bagel fiends ate 1,200,000 in a weekend—now, there were nearly none. Shopkeepers substituted bagels with whatever they could, variously throwing seeded rolls and Bialys into the void, but nothing else would do. (The strike was eventually resolved with mediation from the State Board of Mediation’s Murray Nathan, who had reportedly “helped settle the lox strike of 1947.”)
The showdown with Bagel Boys served to obscure another issue on the union’s docket — one with far more lasting repercussions. Lender’s bagels had been in operation since 1927 in New Haven, Connecticut. It was outside the purview of Local 338, so when, only months before Bagel Boys opened its doors, Lender’s leased a Thompson’s bagel machine of its own, the union paid it little mind. This was a mistake.
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