Bagels and Genres

Jonathan Sadow


Sadow, Jonathan. “Bagels and Genres.” New York Folklore, vol. 37: 1-2, 2011. pp. 3-9.


Conversations about bagels have something to teach us about the nature of genres and the study of material culture. I realized this a few years ago as I was sitting in an Einstein’s Bagels in Las Vegas that was decorated with standardized murals imitating 1930s Bauhaus design. I remembered a conversation with a friend a decade earlier about the authenticity of modern-day bagels—or lack thereof. But as I glanced at the “traditional” preparation with lox and capers alongside the sun-dried tomato variants, it occurred to me that it might be a false competition.

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