The Difference Between Scooped Bagels And Flagels

Bagel orders are deeply personal and sometimes controversial. Your loyalty to New York City's tap water, Montreal's wood-fired ovens, or L.A.'s growing bagel scene says a lot. But the most polarizing orders usually include a flagel or a scooped bagel.

Ultimately, most people choose to order both because they offer more crust and less fluffy filling. The difference between the two is how they lose their bready interior. Scooped bagels are regular bagels that have a portion of their insides carved out. Flagels (flat bagels) are shaped and boiled like bagels but smushed down before baking.

Arguably, scooped bagels allow for more control over the thickness of the bread, but not every shop offers the option. This came to a head in October when a bagel shop employee scolded an LA resident for trying to order one in Manhattan. The spurned Angeleño turned to TikTok and sparked an internet-wide debate over the food that continues today.

The invention of flagels and scooped bagels

Though experts once attributed the flagel to Tasty Bagels in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, food historians still debate the exact origins of both bagels. They do agree that flattened bagels began appearing on shelves roughly 30 years ago. Scooped bagels appeared shortly thereafter, in the late '90s or early aughts, on the heels of the popular Atkins diet.

As for why shops created the bagel, the answer depends on who you ask. The flagel meets fans' needs for a different type of sandwich experience. The flattened disk offers a denser crumb and wider surface area (though no fewer calories) since it's been pressed down. This allows for a bigger sandwich and more toppings.

People ordering gutted bagels also hope to balance the crust-to-interior ratio and ultimately create a better vessel for cream cheese. They say removing some of the interior ensures generous schmears of cream cheese stay firmly in place. However, because scooping reduces a bagel's carb content, the order gained a reputation as a choice for dieters. Whether that actually makes the scooped bagel more nutritious is debatable.

The many (open) faces of bagels

The flagel is a common sight in today's bagel shops, so it's easy to try. If you're struggling to order a scooped bagel on the East Coast, it's easy to DIY the trendy food. Pick up a bagel in NYC, order a tub of cream cheese, and carve out your sandwich at home. Hot water and heat can revive even the dry, stale bagels, so order extra.

After you've sliced and scraped to your heart's desire, consider trying another crusty bread option like Montreal-style bagels. The sweeter rounds are traditionally baked in a wood-fired oven, and the result is thinner and denser than their cousins in the Big Apple.

Or opt for a fluffy West Coast-style treat where bakers are experimenting with sourdough and natural fermentation to create a generous interior. Shops often serve orders open-face, but if the pillowy dough impedes your dairy consumption, go back to scooping.