A bagel (Yiddish: בײגל baygl; Polish: bajgiel), also spelled beigel, is a bread product originating in the Jewish communities of Poland. It is traditionally shaped by hand into the form of a ring from yeasted wheat dough, roughly hand-sized, that is first boiled for a short time in water and then baked. The result is a dense, chewy, doughy interior with a browned and sometimes crisp exterior. Bagels are often topped with seeds baked on the outer crust, with the traditional ones being poppy or sesameseeds. Some may have salt sprinkled on their surface, and there are different dough types, such as whole-grain or rye.
Though the origins of bagels are somewhat obscure, it is known that they were widely consumed by Ashkenazi Jews from the 17th century. The first known mention of the bagel, in 1610, was in Jewish community ordinances in Kraków, Poland.
Bagels are now a popular bread product in North America, especially in cities with a large Jewishpopulation, many with alternative ways of making them. Like other bakery products, bagels are available (fresh or frozen, often in many flavors) in many major supermarkets in those cities.
The basic roll-with-a-hole design is hundreds of years old and has other practical advantages besides providing more even cooking and baking of the dough: The hole could be used to thread string or dowels through groups of bagels, allowing easier handling and transportation and more appealing seller displays.