Today, the bagel is a celebrated culinary New York City fixture. Along with the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and the dollar slice, it's a tourist attraction in its own right.
That wasn't always the case. Until the 1960s, for the mainstream public the bagel was a little-known concept, made by Jewish bakers who passed the bagel-making process down, generation by generation.
Last week Daniel Thompson, the man responsible for popularizing the bagel, died at age 94, The New York Times reports.
As the inventor of the bagel-making machine released in the early 1960s, Thompson opened up what was, until then, a specialized skill to the public; his machine made it easy for anyone to make the doughy circular snack. In doing so, he also altered its definition from a specific flavor and texture profile to a wide variety of flavors and textures united solely by their ringed shape. Today, popular bagel flavors include cinnamon, blueberry and pumpkin.
“There was a kind of schism in bagel-making history: pre-Daniel Thompson and post-Daniel Thompson,” Matthew Goodman, the author of Jewish Food: The World at Table, said in an interview, according to the Times.
Thompson, the son of a Jewish bagel maker, is also credited with inventing the foldable Ping-Pong table, the Times reports. His father was an inventor, and Thompson improved upon his original prototypes to invent the machine that would change the bagel industry forever.
Born in Winnipeg, Canada, and raised in California, where he spent the rest of his life, Thompson is survived by his wife, Ada, and his three children, Leslie, Stephen and Craig. His two sons run the family bagel business.