Friday, March 23, 2012

Bagel and Coffee. In Life and Death.

If the Flying Spaghetti Monster has created a better breakfast combination then a hot toasty bagel with a schemer of cream cheese and a hot black coffee well I have yet to find it. There is something about the crisp crackle of the outside of the bagel and the chewy inside washed down with a cup of joe so tasty that it could have been brewed by Juan Valdez himself.

Unfortunately the breakfast world lost two icons this week, neither of which was responsible for the good food I just mentioned but none the less left their mark on our kitchen tables. Murray Lender (Lender’s Bagels) and Samuel Glazer (Mr. Coffee) both recently passed and we should all be slightly saddened by this.

Lender was a bagel magnate , who helped turn his father’s small Connecticut bakery into a national company was credited with introducing bagels to the unwashed American masses (living between New York and Los Angeles). Glazer was the co-owner of the business that developed the Mr. Coffee coffeemaker. Before each, breakfast was a different place. People would sit around the toaster and wait for white bread to toast (forget cream cheese, we’re talking butter here), while the percolator took hours to brew just enough for a few cups.

Lender started freezing his family’s bagels in 1960 to ship them longer distances outside of Connecticut. This was revolutionary at the time and allowed the round dough to travel to brand new audiences. This was perhaps the downfall of the bagel , followed much later by the death of the bagel when it was mixed with blueberry flavor. Now anybody could take one out of the freezer and drop it in the toaster. Sure they had a warm filling breakfast in no time but they thought they were eating real bagels. This lead to hucksters trying to make a quick buck to first copy Lender’s shipping methods with even worse quality products and then later by opening up store fronts that sold the bagels that were so bad they had to be frozen at one point or another (see Bros comma Einstein).

Glazer was just a guy who was sick of waiting so long for a cup of coffee. In the early 70’s the only choices were the aforementioned percolator or what was known as “instant coffee” (yikes…just the idea sends chills up my back). He developed and introduced the first drip coffeemaker in 1972. Within three years it was the top selling coffee maker brand in the US (per the Mr. Coffee website…if we can believe that bit of corporate fluff). His coffee machines really did revolutionize what we do in the morning to get our caffeine fix. Think about it, without Mr. Coffee, there may have never been Starbucks. And without the introduction of the $3 cup of coffee the home brewing K-cup craze wouldn’t have started. Which reminds me, I need more pods for next week…but yet I digress. Besides the common table where each of these Breakfast Barons held court, they had similarly great commercials. Lender used to get on his own commercials and hawk his big and crusty bagels (without the schlep). While he was introducing the rest of the world to Yiddish phrases, Mr. Coffee featured the incomparable Joe DiMaggio (and his famous signature). These men and their work will be mourned. I’m going to get an everything with a schemer and a black coffee myself. At least the big man upstairs now has his breakfasts covered for eternity.

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