Who Really Fathered the Everything Bagel?


According to the New Yorker this week, the everything bagel was created 30 years ago, when then teenager David Gussin was sweeping up burnt seed scraps at a Queens, New York, bagel shop. He saved them in a bin, and voilà—another flukelike creation story. But was Gussin really first? According to Seth Godin, an author on marketing tactics and theories, he was already making them in 1977, not "around 1980," as Gussin claimed in the piece.

Godin said in an email just now that Gussin's seed-sweeping story is "crazy." He clarified, "you add the seeds when the bagels are on the wet burlap...the burnt seeds in the oven get pretty incinerated and you wouldn't want to use em." Godin thought back to his creation moment—he just sprinkled and tossed the seeds on top. "Lo and behold, it was good." But since Godin's bagel shop was in Buffalo, not the Bronx, it's been overlooked by the bagel elite.

Godin hasn't contacted the New Yorker. "What are the chances they'd correct it?" He did recount another tragic bagel story, however, when he was cleaning a four-foot-tall stand mixer and the blade grabbed his hand, almost pulling him in. "But that's another story." Sore finger and ego?

If Godin actually did invent the everything bagel, the concept will join "permission marketing" and "the meatball sundae" on Godin's idea-making resume.