One of the first life lessons I picked up in college was this: The secret to the shiny crust and chewy bite prized in New York bagels is boiling. Any other way of cooking them, my Brooklyn born-and-raised, freshman-year roommate told me, is simply unacceptable.
Now, many years later, it turns out she was pretty much right. In a new video, the American Chemical Society breaks down the chemistry of what makes New York bagels superior to the also-rans — the disappointing “bagels” you often encounter outside of New York that merely taste like bread with a hole in it.
According to popular mythology, the uniquely superb texture of the New York bagel has to do with New York City’s water — specifically, its low concentrations of calcium and magnesium, which make it softer.