Pocketing The Dough

By Devra Ferst

Published June 09, 2010, issue of June 18, 2010.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Wars over the best New York bagel have likely ensued since the first Jewish immigrants arrived in lower Manhattan. “Zabar’s!” some Jewish families shout about where to buy their Sunday brunch bagels. “Absolute Bagels!” No, “H & H Bagels!”

But the battle switched recently from crust quality to finances.

The owner of the self-proclaimed largest bagel producer in the world (though Lender’s and Dunkin’ Donuts likely beat the company by a long shot) has been lying on the books as well, to the tune of more than $330,000.

Helmer Toro, a co-founder and owner of iconic New York bagel bakery H & H Bagels, pleaded guilty May 27 to second-degree grand larceny for pocketing payroll taxes, mostly money he withheld from employees from 2003 to 2009 and never forked over to the state

The bagel shop, which is widely considered to make one of the quintessential New York bagels, has been mentioned in TV shows and on the big screen by everyone from Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards) in “Seinfeld” to Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) in “Sex and the City.” The company, founded in 1972, ships its bagels overnight to anywhere in the country, and even to select locations abroad.

Toro, who took a plea bargain over a court date that could have resulted in 15 years in jail, will spend 50 weekends behind bars and will have to pay the state $500,000 in fines. He put up his company’s Manhattan bagel plant as collateral.

Manhattan’s district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., said, “Under no circumstances can employers gain in business by cheating their employees.”

Although H & H refused to disclose the number of bagels it produces, it has previously boasted the production of 80,000 bagels daily. And at the exorbitant price of $1.40 a pop (which would rake in $112,000 a day, by our calculation), it shouldn’t take Toro that long to earn some extra dough.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club, “and I love the idea of being Jewish." Are you a fan of Seth Meyers?
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.