The True Origins Of Everything Bagel Seasoning

To call the everything bagel a great invention may overstate the case somewhat. After all, it's a bagel covered in poppy seeds, sesame seeds, minced onions, minced garlic, and salt. In short, it sounds like someone simply dumped a spice cupboard over a bagel to see what would happen.

In fact, David Gussin argues that is exactly how he invented the everything bagel in 1980. Talking to The New Yorker in 2008, Gussin recalled how his teenage employment at a bakery led him to trying the burnt seeds that he swept out of the oven. "Instead of throwing them out, like I always did," he said, "I swept them into a bin and said, 'Charlie, let's make some with these!'" They called it the everything because it was covered in everything. Gussin explained he didn't patent it, though, because it would be like patenting a pizza or a bagel. It's just something so foundational and obvious that it didn't occur to him to do so.

Seth Godin, a dot-com business executive, responded to the New Yorker piece with a blog post claiming that he worked in a bagel factory in 1977 where he would bake everything bagels. Brandon Steiner, a marketer, uploaded his own claim in 2016, recounting a tale of one night in 1973 when he was messing around with toppings until the everything bagel emerged. Even Joe Bastianich defended his claim to Bon Appétit in a 2012 interview: "No, I definitely invented the everything bagel. There's no doubt."

A bagel with everything dumped on it

In a piece for Gastro Obscura, Dan Nosowitz takes the point of the everything bagel's inherent obviousness and flips it into an answer that Gussin's main contribution to the bagel is its name. This is because the precise combination of toppings meet in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, the two major areas from which Jewish people immigrated to the United States. This is why you don't have bagels made with, for example, cloves or coriander as often as sesame seeds. Sesame seeds happened to be more familiar to bagel makers, which reinforced the flavor combination.

So, because all of these flavors coexisted, it's pretty likely that every claim to the invention of the everything bagel is true. After all, it's just a bagel with everything dumped on it. However, Nosowitz does credit Gussin with giving the everything bagel its name. None of the other claims seem to go after that particular aspect, which in selling terms, is the most important.