The boring bagel brouhaha

Everyone’s gotten into a tiff over Hamilton (a small Ontario town, I think Sheila Copps came from there) selling what they call a “Montreal-style bagel.” Problem is it’s not a Montreal-style bagel. It’s got an icing sugar coating, which Montreal bagels don’t have.

Seeing an opportunity to make themselves relevant to the world, the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce has proposed a blind taste test so that we can tell which is the better bagel. The Gazette has accepted the challenge, confident that Montreal bagels will prevail.

There’s three problems with this:

  1. We’ve been through this before. A year ago, The Gazette and the Toronto National Post had a blind taste test of bagels by their staffers. Montreal won, and the Post ate crow. Why do we need to repeat this experiment with a lesser city?
  2. The entire point of the controversy was not, as in the Toronto case, that the other city claimed their bagels were better than ours. The problem is that they’re labelling something a “Montreal-style bagel” when it’s not. Call it a “Hamilton-style bagel” and the controversy is over. Everyone will accept its inferiority.
  3. How do you do a blind taste test for this? One is coated with sugar, the other is not. Even the most undeveloped tastebuds will quickly tell the difference and be able to detect which group the bagel belongs to. And if the Hamilton bagels are stripped of their sugar coating, then we forget the fact that the sugar icing is the point of the controversy in the first place.
  4. Bagels are meant to be served fresh. There’s simply no logical way to do blind taste tests of fresh bagels from two different cities simultaneously. The best they could do is set themselves up in Toronto or Kingston and have bagels rushed down on trains or planes. They’d still be a few hours old at that point. Of course, they’re not going to go that far for a friendly experiment like this, so either one set of bagels is going to be fresher than the other, or everyone is going to be eating stale bagels.

Why are we wasting the time of so many journalists repeating something we’ve already done, that has no journalistic value and above all doesn’t make any sense?

UPDATE: On Sunday, the paper prints this article, which is a cut-and-paste (typos and all) of this discussion forum, complete with thoughtless opinion from whoever had a minute of free time that day and wanted to rant.

12 thoughts on “The boring bagel brouhaha

  1. Ian

    This typefies the kind of pointlessness that made me leave Hamilton for Montreal in the first place.
    That the Gazette has agreed to play along shows how lame they are, too. It’s embarrassing that the only English language newspaper in Montreal is party to such patent stupidity – no wonder Anglos are still struggling against the stereotype of being uncultured buffoons.

  2. DAVE ID

    I’m sure you meant to write:

    Why do we need to repeat this experiment with a another lesser city? ;)

    This is the Kobayashi Maru of bagel fights. We beat TO, we beat NY, there’s nothing left. Montreal Bagels are unwhackable, end of story. Why do people even bother. I remember some 10 years ago some deli in Calgary opened with Montreal Style Smoked Meat sandwiches. With MAYO in it. Oh Hello. It’s Mayo in the BURGERS, not the Smoked meat. Gees.

  3. Tim

    Slow news day, I guess…

    As unnewsworthy as this is, at least it’s innocuous. I prefer this to the irresponsible journalism that The Gazette and Journal (not to mention their respective media empires) are capable of.

    @Ian: Lack of culture is the least of us Anglos’ image problem. The perception that we’re a lot of rude, domineering, unilingual Westmount bankers, that’s problem #1. / L’inculture est le moindre des problèmes de perception de nous anglophones. Qu’on soit perçu une comme une gang de banquiers de Westmount, unilingues, snobs et dominateurs, c’est le problème n° 1.

  4. DAVE ID

    rude, domineering, unilingual Westmount bankers, that’s problem #1

    That’s funny.

    I think the French and English should just go have a big party and get really drunk, and forget about all this perception crap and Longeuil will be going “What the F just happened?”

  5. Tim

    Sounds like someone just called for a bilingual love-in at midnight Friday at St-Laurent and Ste-Catherine! Qu’en dites-vous, mes confrères bilingues?

    Is this how a flash mob starts?

  6. Josh

    I rather like the reference to the “Toronto National Post”, by the way. I’ve been complaining for a while now about how the Canwest papers frequently refer to the “Toronto Globe and Mail”, but the Post is just the “National Post”, even though the two papers serve pretty much the same purpose.

    Hopefully you start a trend.

  7. Fagstein Post author

    It’s not that I’m taking sides on the Globe/Post debate. But when you have a section of the paper called “Toronto” you’ve pretty much given up, haven’t you?

    The problem with the Post is that it’s CanWest’s only major newspaper in Toronto. So they cover anything big that happens in Canada’s largest city. They cover the Leafs, Ontario politics, business etc. And because there’s no local paper to put these stories in, the Post adds sections specifically about Toronto for its Toronto readers. In many ways, that makes the Post a de facto Toronto paper, much as they’d like to be more than that.

    The Globe doesn’t have this problem, so they can at least appear to be less Toronto-centric. But the hometown bias is still prevalent there.

  8. Christopher DeWolf

    Actually, the Globe does have a Toronto edition, and many of its weekend features are extremely Toronto-centric (columns, concert reviews, etc.) That said, it does have a special BC section in its Vancouver edition, which is part of an attempt to make the paper more local and compete for a slice of the English-language Lower Mainland market (both of Vancouver’s other English papers are owned by CanWest).

    I’d personally like to see the Globe develop a similar Quebec/Montreal section for its Montreal edition. The Gazette could certainly use the competition.

  9. Josh

    I was pretty much going to say what Chris said. In fact, a friend of mine just finished an internship under the “Toronto Editor” at the Globe, and from what I hear, they see themselves as a direct competitor in the local paper game there, with the Sun and the Star.


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