Linguist Leo Rosten wrote in The Joys of Yiddish about the first known mention of the Polish word bajgiel derived from the Yiddish word bagel in the "Community Regulations" of the city of Kraków in 1610, which stated that the item was given as a gift to women in childbirth.
In the 16th and first half of the 17th centuries, the bajgiel became a staple of Polish cuisine and a staple of the Slavic diet generally. Its name derives from the Yiddish word beygal from the German dialect word beugel, meaning "ring" or "bracelet".
Variants of the word beugal are used in Yiddish and in Austrian German to refer to a similar form of sweet-filled pastry (Mohnbeugel (with poppy seeds) and Nussbeugel (with ground nuts), or in southern German dialects (where beuge refers to a pile, e.g., holzbeuge "woodpile"). According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, 'bagel' derives from the transliteration of the Yiddish 'beygl', which came from the Middle High German 'böugel' or ring, which itself came from 'bouc' (ring) in Old High German, similar to the Old English bēag "ring" and būgan "to bend, bow". Similarly, another etymology in the Webster's New World College Dictionary says that the Middle High German form was derived from the Austrian German beugel, a kind of croissant, and was similar to the German bügel, a stirrup or ring.
In the Brick Lane district and surrounding area of London, England, bagels (locally spelled "beigels") have been sold since the middle of the 19th century. They were often displayed in the windows of bakeries on vertical wooden dowels, up to a metre in length, on racks.
Bagels were brought to the United States by immigrant Polish Jews, with a thriving business developing in New York City that was controlled for decades by Bagel Bakers Local 338. They had contracts with nearly all bagel bakeries in and around the city for its workers, who prepared all their bagels by hand.
The bagel came into more general use throughout North America in the last quarter of the 20th century with automation. Daniel Thompson started work on the first commercially viable bagel machine in 1958; bagel baker Harry Lender, his son, Murray Lender, and Florence Sender leased this technology and pioneered automated production and distribution of frozen bagels in the 1960s. Murray also invented pre-slicing the bagel.
Around 1900, the "bagel brunch" became popular in New York City. The bagel brunch consists of a bagel topped with lox, cream cheese, capers, tomato, and red onion. This and similar combinations of toppings have remained associated with bagels into the 21st century in the US.
In Japan, the first kosher bagels were brought by
BagelK from New York in 1989. BagelK created green tea, chocolate, maple-nut, and banana-nut flavors for the market in Japan. There are three million bagels exported from the U.S. annually, and it has a 4%-of-duty classification of Japan in 2000. Some Japanese bagels, such as those sold by
BAGEL & BAGEL , are soft and sweet; others, such as Einstein Bro. bagels sold by Costco in Japan, are the same as in the U.S.