February 9 is National Bagel Day — a whole day devoted to a food that, more than any other, is probably the definitive, most widely recognized Jewish food item. Something about it makes it easily translatable across cultural divides, so in that sense it’s become a distinctly American food, enjoyed and adopted by all.
What makes the bagel so compelling? Is it the soft-yet-chewy texture? Is it the generous dollop of cream cheese that is spread across its toasted surface, colloquially known as a schmear?
Whatever it is, it’s being celebrated tomorrow (Thursday), and many restaurants and shops will be offering freebies, including coffee and this Jewish breakfast staple.
Among them, Orwashers will be giving away free coffee with bagel purchase, and introducing a new rugelach-flavored cream cheese to its menu. (The mixture combines fresh raspberry jam, nuts, raisins and cinnamon).
Zucker’s Bagels & Smoked Fish, which rolls it bagels by hand the old-fashioned way, is offering a free mini bagel with choice of cream cheese to the first 100 customers at each of its three locations. (No purchase necessary.)
The Manhattan Bagel chain is also offering one free bagel per person, with cream cheese or butter.
Because this is a Jewish holiday of national importance, check with your local bagel shops or eateries to see which have similar deals.