The Post looks at the growing chasm between old school bagels which tend to be small and the bagels that are the size of a cat. Now, Gothamist didn't realize there was this chasm - we only were aware that there were "NYC bagels" and "crap bagels" (which can even come from NYC, but then they are from Dunkin' Donuts or Au Bon Pain or some other huge chain). The Post's Chris Erikson explains:

The smaller bagel: "chewy and toothsome, with a burnished, blistered crust and the flavor of high-quality, high-gluten flour"
The bigger, new-fangled bagels: "an oversized mass of sweetened dough, with a pale exterior soft as a feather pillow."

Some NYC customers expect huge bagels, even though they really weren't meant to be that way. Apparently bagels got bigger to feed "whitebread" tastes, and some bagel makers use a scary sounding "dough conditioner" that gives bagels their "product softness ('Reddi-Sponge' some old-timers call it) and extend shelf life." Good God! Gothamist always assumed big bagels represented the bounty of the city, and during our carb-conscious consciousness, we've opted for bialys - or scooped out the white flesh from the big bagels. But now we know!

Do you go for big bagels or smaller ones? And where do you get your favorite bagels? The Post has suggestions on where to get the smaller kinds (including Bruce's Bagels in Brooklyn and Murray's in Manhattan); Gothamist's favorite used to be Columbia Bagels, but that's closed. And the NY Times' Dan Barry follows up on [F]-Line Bagels; it's only for Times Select, so we've cut-and-pasted a choice bit below.

When they were done, two sleek neon signs announced to a fairly desolate corner in Carroll Gardens the addition of a new business: F Line Bagels. The F was encased in the same distinctive orange circle that helps riders to pinpoint the stops along the F train route, including the one at Smith Street, directly opposite this new store.

F Line Bagels opened in February 2005. A month or so later, a man stopped by. He asked for a menu and then he asked for a business card, which is not the same as asking for a bagel with cream cheese.

"Are we in some kind of trouble?" Faried Assad, one of the partners, recalls asking. He also recalls the succinct answer: "Yes."

The man identified himself as a lawyer for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. He pointed at the signs, the straps, the tiles - the very subway-ness of the store - and said it was all the authority's intellectual property.


THE two sides reached a settlement in which the bagel store would pay what Mr. Kelly describes as a nominal licensing fee. But the store dithered for several months before eventually backing out of the deal, he says.

"We couldn't afford it," Mr. Samhan explains. "We're still paying off the signs."

Early last fall, the authority's lawyer returned. Mr. Assad spotted him taking photographs of the store from the sidewalk, and rushed out to confront him. "Get out of here before I take your camera and break it," he remembers yelling, or something to that effect.

Why the anger? Because the man's appearance was "a slap to my face," he says. "You put us in this hole. You put us through this misery. I was highly upset."

The episode did not endear the owners to the authority. "They physically intimidated, or tried to intimidate, a member of the M.T.A. staff," Mr. Kelly said. "Their behavior was despicable and something obviously we wouldn't tolerate." No more Mr. Nice Transportation Authority. Or, as Mr. Kelly put it, "Now we're going to enforce all the rules and regulations."

The cost of the licensing fee went up precipitously. Then, in late November, a judge in Manhattan ordered the bagel store to cover up all transit-related items immediately, and to remove the accessories within 60 days - which means by the end of next week.

Gothamist on F Line Bagels.