Ottawa Catering

Found this great piece in the New York Times today. It talks about the definition of a “klutz” – which interestingly includes people who cut themselves while slicing bagels.

Klutz or not, you’d be surprised how many bagel injuries (BRI’s) occur in North America every year. Got this gem of a piece from the Fun Archive, and then found this post at the Wall Street Journal to back up the point.

In 2008, according to an analysis of fingers cut by knives as reported in the government’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, 1,979 people appeared in ERs with a BRI. Chicken-related injuries (3,463) led the category, but recorded bagel injuries were otherwise exceeded only by potato, apple and onion injuries. Bagels, in fact, were implicated in more finger cuts than pumpkins (1,195) or cheese (1,236). Fewer than 100 incidents in 2008 involved turnips; same thing for wedding cakes.

The following is directly from the WSJ piece: 

When bagels were on a roll in the 1990s, moving beyond the urban enclaves where they first landed from Eastern Europe, some attributed the BRI problem to untrained slicers in white-bread regions. Untrue, say bagel-control experts. Every American now eats an average of 11.06 bagels a year at home, according to the market-research group NPD. But the crux of the issue is bagel authenticity.

As Maria Balinska tells it in her book, “The Bagel,” fear of bagel-injury litigation led Lender’s to sell its frozen bagels pre-sliced, even before they hit the Midwest in the 1970s. Today, bagels at Wal-Mart or Dunkin’ Donuts are steamed before baking. They may be round and have a hole, but they’re fluffily sliceable. 

Real bagels are boiled, then baked. It makes them chewy on the inside and hazardously slippery on the outside. Dr. Richard Nelson, head of emergency medicine at Ohio State University Medical Center calls the traumatic consequences “pretty common.”

“Once you pierce that crust,” he says, “you’re into the bread and suddenly that knife is moving real fast.”

Yet many buyers of authentic bagels — sold mostly at small bakeries and chains like Bruegger’s — seem unaware of the BRI threat. They keep slicing with naked knives. Nor does there seem to be any immunity among those who share the bagel’s Jewish genes.

What’s the point of this story? Slice bagels carefully, or seriously consider purchasing a bagel slicer.