What Is a Scooped Bagel? For Starters, Controversial

Photograph by Tracy Nguyen

On Thursday, October 26, Taylor Offer asked for a scooped gluten-free bagel at a bagel shop in New York City. “The guy just looks at me and says, ‘I’m not scooping your fucking bagel, bro,’” the TikTok creator—and Los Angeles resident—says in a viral video. “It’s like, Dude, that’s how I want it.”

The video has nearly 9 million views and thousands of comments—their general consensus being that it’s a crime to scoop a bagel and transplants should be banned from New York for good measure. “So sorry but I have such a hard time respecting a scooped bagel,” reads one comment. “So proud of the deli guy for setting healthy boundaries,” reads another.

A scooped bagel is what it sounds like—a bagel with its interior carved out, leaving only a half-pipe of crust. Its origin is impossible to nail down, but it likely came from the late ’90s and early aughts, when the Atkins diet made everyone terrified of carbs. And scooping backlash isn’t new: In 2016, when a book by two dietitians, Ilyse Schapiro and Hallie Rich, called Should I Scoop Out My Bagel debuted, a New York Post headline declared, “Bagel scoopers are ruining NYC.” Earlier this year, a headline asked readers, “Are ‘scooped’ bagels evil? An investigation.”

To understand better the backlash against Offer, it also helps to know that ordering a bagel in New York City is a trial and tribulation: You rehearse your order in your head as you stand in line. The line inches forward and questions ricochet around your brain as your palms start to moisten: Will the bagel guy be nice to me? (Probably not.) Will I stutter, flubbing my order and losing street cred with the unapproachably aloof bagel crew? (Undoubtedly.) What if they’re out of everything bagels?! (They won’t be.) There are a thousand controversial decisions—sweet versus savory, toasted versus untoasted, rainbow versus something not completely ridiculous—and everyone has an opinion.

I’m pro scooping, though, and I’m here to make its case. I’ve been eating bagels for as long as I can remember. When I was growing up in Rhode Island, every Sunday my dad used to come home with a big brown paper bag full of bagels for a very long, very spread-heavy brunch that my six-person family would sit down to. I’ve lived in New York for over a decade now, and I’ve been ordering bagels for the entirety of that time—for a while it was twice a day. Some time in my early 20s I made the switch to scooped bagels, and I never looked back.

Let’s be clear: All bagels are great. (Except plain bagels— a little for once.) But a chronic problem, as any regular bagel eater knows, is over cream-cheesing. There’s often an inch-thick layer of cream cheese between your slices of bagel, and it gets squeezed out on your first bite, covering your fingers and generally making a mess. A scooped bagel avoids that problem. “But what about the doughy to crunchy ratio?” You ask. What about it? There’s still plenty of soft, springy inside to munch through in a scooped bagel. No bagel shop has ever scooped a bagel into a completely two-dimensional object devoid of its doughy interior. In fact, I’d argue that the dough-to-crunch ratio is improved; you can experience the crackly crunch without the overwhelming gumminess of too much inside. Lastly, full-size, unscooped bagels make me straight up sleepy. Once I eat that amount of carbs in one sitting, I am done for the day.

If you’re still not convinced, you should know some important people are on my side: Friends era Jennifer Anniston for one. And also Bethenny Frankel. Okay, you know, seeing it all laid out in print like that, maybe I’m not helping my case.

When I asked my colleagues if they preferred their bagels scooped or unscooped, I knew I was in for a whirlwind of Slack notifications. Nearly every response was anti-scoop. Here’s a sampling of how the Bon Appétit team feels:

“Scooping bagels is for people who hate themselves. The doughy part in the middle is the best. Why would you want to remove it?” —Zoe Denenberg, associate editor cooking and SEO

“Scooping bagels is a crime. What’s the point of getting a bagel? It’s like ordering a pizza and then only eating the crust and removing the rest.” —Julia Duarte, designer

“I don't scoop my bagels, but I truly see nothing wrong with the practice from a ‘respect the bagel’ perspective. It’s more an issue of practicality for a busy bagel line.” —Adam Moussa, associate director, social and visuals

“I am anti-scoop because if that’s what you want, you should just get a bag of bagel chips and a tub of cream cheese” —Carina Finn, commerce editor

That’s basically an unanimous anti-scoop front. Still, I’ve never been afraid to be the only one with a controversial opinion—I also think ketchup is gross, sorry—despite the vitriol that may be tossed mercilessly my way. As the noted philosopher Lady Gaga once said, there can be 100 close-minded anti-bagel-scooping coworkers in a room and 99 of them don’t believe in you, but all it takes is one and it just changes your whole life. In these divisive times, I hope we can focus on our similarities rather than our differences. If there’s one thing we can all agree on, for example, it’s this: The ungodly way that Tyra Banks prepares her bagels should be made illegal.

If you aren’t convinced by my perfect and unimpeachable arguments, that’s okay. Sometimes I go for an unscooped too—like when the line is long and the bagel guy is stressing. But I respect that some people just want an unmarred bagel, and that’s their right. Incidentally, if you’re wondering what happened to Offer, the incendiary bagel scooper, he’s doing just fine. He got his gluten-free scooped bagel—down the street.

Originally Appeared on Bon Appétit

More Culture Stories From Bon Appétit