Food & Drink

Here’s the real reason you shouldn’t order a scooped-out bagel

This used to be a bagel. Via Jordana Z.
This used to be a bagel. Via Jordana Z.

Bagel scoopers, as I wrote in the NY Post yesterday, are treated by some New Yorkers as a loathsome subset of city dwellers, lumped in with people who eat their pizza with a fork or derelicts who ride the subway in flip flops. Passions run high on this subject because New Yorkers care a lot about their iconic foods. Watching someone lobotomize a beloved food item clearly causes physical pain for some who hold the bagel in holy (hole-y?) pride. So for that story for the Post, I talked to people who defend bagel scooping as a way to cut carbs while still getting their beloved bagel taste, and others who would rather eat a scoop of cream cheese with their bare hands than watch someone gut theirs.

The truth is: it’s a matter of taste/diet/whatever, but it’s your food and you should do what you want with it, despite whatever a birthright-waving New Yorker might tell you. But there is one actual reason you shouldn’t scoop your bagel: It’s super wasteful.

Like I said, you as an American are free to do what you want with your food, be it smear gross dead fish all over your bagel, order a birthday cake flavored bagel or mince it into puree as some sort of baby fetish play. As a person who regularly orders pizza with no cheese on it (COME AT ME, BRO), I’m in no position to tell you there’s one right way of eating something.

But throwing food in the trash is another issue. All the bagel shops I talked to, including bagel royalty Essa-a-Bagel, Terrace Bagels, Bagel Pub and others, take the handful of dough they scoop out of your bagel and throw it directly into the trash. They don’t reuse it, compost it, or save it for some new form of bagel chip; it just goes to waste.

This is a silly waste of food, especially for a tactic that only saves a maximum of about 75 calories, the equivalent of an apple. So bagel scooping is probably not effective, making it the juice cleanse of the deli or the Drynuary of baked goods: a symbolic act that makes you feel like you’re doing something healthy. The act alone is fine, the waste is not.

This would be like ordering a pizza and demanding the clerk throw 1/3 of it before you even get the pie in your hands as a way to cut calories, or asking for an ice cream cone and immediately pushing the top into the trash. Your bagel scoopings are adding to the 60 million metric tons of food that goes to waste each year, which adds 32 million metric tons to landfills (not to mention making trash even more attractive for rats and those dastardly raccoons). And yeah, there are hungry people on the streets too who might be happy to just go halfsies on a regular bagel with you.

In the spirit of compromise, here are some things you can do instead of ordering a scooped out bagel at your local shop:

-Find another, less-filling breakfast food
-Consider the benefits of also unfairly maligned flagel
-Take the bagel (and fillings) to go, scoop it yourself at home, and reuse the scoopings. Dan Pashman, host of WNYC’s The Sporkful podcast suggested to me this method: put the scooped bread balls in the oven to dry them out and use them to make a panzanella Italian bread salad, like this one. You’re still getting the same amount of carbs, but you can spread them out over the day/disguise them with a salad.

Enjoy your bagels however you want. Don’t let Gothamist tell you want to do, don’t let us tell you what to do. But don’t waste food, please.

Yell at Tim about the pizza cheese thing on Twitter: @timdonnelly.



  1. As a Type 1 Diabetic, I count carbs and have to take insulin according to how many carbs I eat. Carbs + Insulin – Exercise = Weight Gain. So there is a purpose to scooped out bagels. Hopefully someone will find a way to make a bagel with less dough in the middle and everyone can be happy.

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