The Bizarre Law That Turned Bagels Into Good Luck Charms

Guys. Throw out your four-leaf clovers and put your rabbits' feet back on their rabbits. There is only one good luck charm you need from here on out, and that is the delicious, nutritious (and apparently auspicious) bagel. Yes, friends, the humble bagel may look like just a round ball of flour, water, and yeast, with a hole punched right through the middle, but in fact, this popular breakfast food and doughnut-doppelganger is oh so much more. Just ask The Atlantic, whose "Secret History of Bagels" uncovers a blood-soaked legend, filled with treachery, deceit, and even murder.

Actually, we couldn't find too many dark secrets in the origin story of the beloved bagel — those dough balls are just too darn wholesome. Nay, the noble bagel is even better than wholesome: it's a symbol of good luck. Ever since the bagel's birth in the 14th century — when soft German pretzels made their way to Poland, only to be transformed into the bagel shape we know today and rebranded as obwarzanek — people have instinctively known of their importance in the timeline of human history. "Obwarzanek was primarily the province of princes, nobles, and men and women of means," according to The Atlantic. But when did bagels go from being something you nibble to something you put on a necklace and wear for good fortune? Or ... should we not be doing that?

Bagels bring good luck to new mothers

According to The Atlantic, the first appearance of the modern-day bagel in old-timey records happened in 1610, in the written records of Krakow, Poland. But before you go thinking that a historian simply uncovered an old cafe menu and saw "bagel" as a line item, think again. Apparently, Krakow community regulations established a rule that women who had just given birth were to be given bagels — and not for their tastiness alone. "Like the round loaves of challah we eat at Rosh Hashanah ... " Ari Weinzweig writes for The Atlantic, "the round shape of the bagel was believed to bring good luck in childbirth and to symbolize long life." Given their never-ending-ness quality, circles are naturally symbolic of fullness, completeness, and eternity. Hence, the bagel's round figure made it a source of magical fortune in medieval Poland ... plus, as AP News points out, bagels also made great teething rings for moms to give their newborn babies.

Perhaps America's democracy took so long to get off the ground — what with racial emancipation not happening until 100 years after the nation was born, and women's suffrage another 50 years after that (per History) — because bagels didn't arrive on U.S. shores until 1920, when, according to AP News, emigrants from the Old World brought this symbol of good luck with them on their journey for a better life.