Flagel: The Bagel's Flat Cousin That Was Born In Brooklyn

On a recent weekend outing, I stopped by my local bagel shop in Astoria, Queens, for a quick-and-cheap lunch before going to a movie. In New York City, many bagels are quite large so I went for a mini everything bagel — but they were out of stock. Hungry and not willing to sacrifice the flavors of everything bagel seasoning, I ordered an everything flagel instead — for the first time. 

Here in NYC, our popular bagels are usually large and puffy, but a flagel — which is simply a flat bagel – skips all of the fluffy bread between the crusts for a thinner, crisper vessel with which to eat schmeared cream cheese. Some foodies likely scoff at the idea of a flat bagel, since the bread traditionally relies on the doughy center. If that's you, then you might ask who came up with this concoction, and the answer lies in Brooklyn. 

It was invented by Tasty Bagels in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, in the early 1990s, according to The Village Voice. However, Bagel Boss, a chain of bagel shops across New York and a few other states, trademarked the term a few years later in 1999 after claiming its creation. Perhaps its invention was born out of a baker's boredom, to satisfy a health craze, or to reuse leftover dough. We might never know its true origin, but flagels are still available at shops across NYC today.

Flagels pack a crunch

When you're in line to order, you'll occasionally hear a patron order their bagel scooped (what a waste!). This is when the person behind the counter has to take the time to literally scoop out most of the bread from the crust, either to reduce the number of carbs or to make more space for the cream cheese or other fillings. You might think a flagel is a similar workaround for health-conscious diners, but it might not be the case. 

A flagel is a bagel that's boiled like usual, then flattened before it goes into the oven to bake. For that reason, it might have the same amount of bread (and carbs) as a regular version, though some shops might use less dough. It's not only about the health factors, though. What I enjoyed most about my first flagel was the crunch factor it offered, especially when toasted. It also allows for everything seasoning, poppy seeds, or whatever ingredients are on the crust to have a more forward flavor. 

Personally, I loathe a bagel that doesn't have the right bread-to-cream-cheese ratio, and a flagel allows for the cream cheese flavors to stand out (I'll take veggie, please). Many New Yorkers like to order a BLT or chicken salad sandwich on a bagel, and a thinner flagel also makes for a much more manageable sandwich to eat. Hungry for a flagel now? Tasty Bagels shuttered in 2023, so check out our ranking of NYC's 15 best bagels to satisfy your craving.