A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from March 13, 2018
Brooklyn Jawbreaker (bagel)

Bagels in New York City in the 1950s and 1960s were often difficult to chew. “The Bagel—Automated and Frozen—Is Gaining New Friends” by Jean Hewitt, printed in the New York (NY) Times on APril 14, 1969, stated:

“Described by comedians, well acquainted with bagels, as petrified doughnuts or Brooklyn jawbreakers, the boiled, and then baked, yeast rolls—through a series of production and marketing advances—have moved out of the ethnic classification and become a seven-day-a-week breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack item.”

Bagels are now made at many places—besides Brooklyn—and are softer. The term “Brooklyn jawbreaker” is mostly of historical interest.


Wikipedia: Bagel
A bagel (Yiddish: בײגל‎ baygl; Polish: bajgiel), also spelled beigel, is a bread product originating in the Jewish communities of Poland. It is traditionally shaped by hand into the form of a ring from yeasted wheat dough, roughly hand-sized, that is first boiled for a short time in water and then baked. The result is a dense, chewy, doughy interior with a browned and sometimes crisp exterior. Bagels are often topped with seeds baked on the outer crust, with the traditional ones being poppy or sesame seeds. Some may have salt sprinkled on their surface, and there are different dough types, such as whole-grain or rye.

Though the origins of bagels are somewhat obscure, it is known that they were widely consumed in Ashkenazi Jewish communities from the 17th century. The first known mention of the bagel, in 1610, was in Jewish community ordinances in Kraków, Poland.

14 April 1969, New York (NY) Times, “The Bagel—Automated and Frozen—Is Gaining New Friends” by Jean Hewitt, pg. 50, col. 2:
Described by comedians, well acquainted with bagels, as petrified doughnuts or Brooklyn jawbreakers, the boiled, and then baked, yeast rolls—through a series of production and marketing advances—have moved out of the ethnic classification and become a seven-day-a-week breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack item.

Old Fulton (NY) Post Cards
13 November 1976, Greenfield (MA) Recorder, “Bagels are his business” by Leigh Fenly (Copley News Service), pg. 9, col. 5:
Bagel king Murray Lender, who has worked 45 years in a bagel bakery, doesn’t know why bagels are so funny, except that every stand-up comic for the last 15 years has done at least a 60-second routine on the bagel: petrified doughnut, Brooklyn jawbreaker, spare tire for an Israeli sports car.

Google Books
Bagelmania:
The “Hole” Story

By Connie Berman and Suzanne Munshower
Tucson, AZ: HPBooks
1987
Pg. 70:
Aside from mispronunciations, the bagel has been called some downright outrageous things in its time, including:
crocodile’s teething ring
Israeli sportscar tire
Brooklyn jawbreaker
water doughnut
Jewish English muffin
mouse’s life preserver
unsweetened doughnut with rigor mortis
.

Google Books
The Joys of Yinglish:
An Exuberant Dictionary of Yiddish Words, Phrases, and Locutions

By Leo Rosten
New York, NY: McGraw-Hill
1989
Pg. 56:
Bagels are called “doughnuts with a college education,” “doughnuts in rigor mortis,” “Brooklyn jawbreakers,” and “alligator teething rings.

23 June 1993, Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA), “Bagels ; They’re off and runnin’... new shops entice nonethnic groups” by Timothy J. Connolly, pg. C1:
Connolly, Timothy J. Telegram & Gazette; Worcester, Mass. [Worcester, Mass]23 June 1993: C1.
The traditional plain bagel - made from yeast, malt syrup and flour - is smooth and crusty outside and dense and chewy inside. McCormack said the basic recipe sometimes produced what New Yorkers affectionately call “the Brooklyn jawbreaker.”

Google Books
Microbes and Society
By Benjamin S. Weeks and I. Edward Alcamo
Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers
2008
Pg. 268:
Petrified Donuts
They’ve been called everything from Brooklyn jawbreakers to Jewish English muffins, from bugles to beagles, from rolls with holes to petrified donuts.

Google Books
The Mad Feast:
An Ecstatic Tour through America’s Food

By Matthew Gavin Frank
New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
2015
Pg. ?:
N THE 1970S, New Yorkers, deciding en masse to make sandwiches of their bagels, demanded a new recipe, a softer consistency, in order to “domesticate” what were often then colloquially known as “cement doughnuts” or “Brooklyn jawbreakers.”

New York (NY) Times
New York Today: What Makes a New York Bagel?
By JONATHAN WOLFE OCT. 20, 2017
(...)
The first bagels appeared in New York City in the late 19th century, brought here by Jewish immigrants, Ms. Balinska said. In 1951, an article by The Times described them as a “glazed surfaced roll” made of “firm white dough.” Back then, bagels were much smaller, more difficult to chew and went stale more quickly, Ms. Balinska added. (Popular nicknames were “cement doughnuts” or “Brooklyn jawbreakers.”) Frozen bagels — if you can call them that — entered the market in the 1960s.

Twitter
Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce
@BrooklynChamber
In the 1950s bagels were smaller and harder to chew, often nicknamed “cement donuts” and “Brooklyn jawbreakers.” #BCC100
11:00 AM - 26 Dec 2017

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Tuesday, March 13, 2018 • Permalink