One of America’s Favorites – Bagel and Cream Cheese

February 25, 2019 at 6:01 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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A bagel with cream cheese

A bagel and cream cheese (also known as bagel with cream cheese) is a common food pairing in American cuisine, the cuisine of New York City, and American Jewish cuisine, consisting in its basic form of an open-faced sandwich made of a bagel spread with cream cheese. The bagel is typically sliced into two pieces, and can be served as-is or toasted. The basic bagel with cream cheese serves as the base for other sandwiches such as the “lox and schmear”, a staple of delicatessens in the New York area, and across the U.S.

A bagel with cream cheese is common in American cuisine and the cuisine of New York City. In the United States, the bagel and cream cheese is often eaten for breakfast, and with smoked salmon is sometimes served for brunch. In New York City circa 1900, a popular combination consisted of a bagel topped with lox, cream cheese, capers, tomato, and red onion.

The combination of a bagel with cream cheese has been promoted to American consumers in the past by American food manufacturers and publishers. In the early 1950s, Kraft Foods launched an “aggressive advertising campaign” that depicted Philadelphia-brand cream cheese with bagels. In 1977, Better Homes and Family Circle magazines published a bagel and cream cheese recipe booklet that was distributed in the magazines and also placed in supermarket dairy cases.

In American Jewish cuisine, a bagel and cream cheese is sometimes called a “whole schmear” or “whole schmeer”, indicating a bagel with cream cheese. A “slab” is a bagel served with a slab of

A “lox and a schmear” refers to a sliced bagel with cream cheese and lox, a part of American Jewish cuisine.

cream cheese atop it. A “lox and a schmear” refers to a bagel with cream cheese and lox or smoked salmon. Tomato, red onion, capers and chopped hard-boiled egg are additional ingredients that are sometimes used on the lox and schmear. All of these terms are used at some delicatessens in New York City, particularly at Jewish delicatessens and older, more traditional delicatessens.

The lox and schmear likely originated in New York City around the time of the turn of the 20th century, when street vendors in the city sold salt-cured belly lox from pushcarts. A high amount of

salt in the fish necessitated the addition of bread and cheese to reduce the lox’s saltiness. It was reported by U.S. newspapers in the early 1940s that bagels and lox were sold by delicatessens in New York City as a “Sunday morning treat”, and in the early 1950s, bagels and cream cheese combination were very popular in the United States, having permeated American culture.

Both bagels and cream cheese are mass-produced foods in the United States. Additionally, in January 2003, Kraft Foods began purveying a mass-produced convenience food product named Philadelphia To Go Bagel & Cream Cheese, which consisted of a combined package of two bagels and cream cheese.

 

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