MrConsumer is a native New Yorker and knows there is nothing like a New York bagel. In part, real New York bagels are boiled before they are baked. And many bakers there claim it is the New York water that makes them special. Even the New York Times just last week said:
Water has long been part of New York’s bagel mythology. The city’s tap water is particularly low in magnesium and calcium, which makes it “soft,” in water speak. But bakers can adjust their dough for a boil in soft or hard water to achieve the desired effect.
The typical frozen bagels you get in the supermarket are round and have a hole in the middle, but other than that, they are generally a very poor imitation of a real bagel. One brand, however, for the past two decades has tried to distinguish itself as being the real McCoy — Ray’s New York Bagels — because they are kettle-boiled in New York water.
Website screenshots as of March 9, 2021
Since they were on sale two weeks ago in the Boston area, MrConsumer decided to try Ray’s and stocked up buying four packages. I did notice that nothing on the package said they were boiled (unlike the package above shown on their website) but there was still a small mention about New York water on the back of the new bag.
While each bagel is a good size and tasty, I frankly didn’t notice any texture difference compared to typical prepackaged fresh supermarket bagels such as Thomas’ or store brands. There was no shiny crust, and while dense, they were not extra chewy inside.
After not getting an answer to an email inquiry, I called Ray’s in New York to ask if they were still being boiled. The man who answered the phone said they were not. Ah ha, I knew it.
To get to the “crust” of the matter concerning bagelgate, I spoke to Jared Bell, now the third-generation owner of Bagels by Bell, LTD in Brooklyn. He is in a co-venture with Ray’s New York Bagels (of Massachusetts) to produce and distribute Ray’s. Jared confirmed that they no longer boil their bagels, but instead have developed a secret process that simulates boiling so well that most people can’t tell the difference (except you know who). He also said that the website was about to be updated.
So, while Ray’s may be the best frozen bagel on the market, its “kettle-boiled” claim to fame is now half-baked.