No toasting at this UWS joint. (Photo via rpolidoro's flickr)

Listen, we're never going to be able to declare one bagel the Best Bagel here in New York—we need to just agree that, collectively, New York has the best bagels in the world, and move on. But bagel debates go deeper than which establishment creates the most perfect mouthwatering circle—in the beginning, there's one basic question: do you toast your bagel, or leave it untoasted? Some guidelines:

FROZEN BAGELS

Not sure why you are eating a frozen bagel when surely there's a fresh bagel worth eating somewhere within walking distance of your freezer... maybe you got nostalgic for Lender's? Whatever the reason for this cryonic catastrophe, your bad decisions need to end there: that sad lump of frozen dough now needs to be transformed via the power of toasting. DO NOT EVEN go near that microwave, you—yes its quickness is alluring, but it's a trap. The only way to turn this frozen bagel into something edible is by heating it in a toaster oven. It's your best shot.

Speaking of shots, do some shots while it's toasting and the whole thing will seem a lot more appealing to you. The alcohol may also make you more creative or generous with your toppings, which this is going to need a lot of. Just pile on some of that low-fat generic brand veggie cream cheese, the one with the shreds of carrots, because you obviously have no standards when it comes to bageling. What a beautiful mess this will all be.

Later, as you stare at the empty frozen bagel packaging in your garbage can, absorb the image and reflect upon your mistakes. Like, really think about what just happened here, and vow to never let it happen again.

DAY OLD BAGEL

Again, you can't just buy a new bagel down at the bagel store on the corner? Fine, you thrifty bastard, but to make this right you're going to need to plug in that toaster.

NEW BAGEL

Did you go to a store to procure this shiny, new bagel? Fantastic, but here is where things get tricky. Do you want cream cheese on that bagel? Then do not toast it. If you do, you risk a hot cream cheese slide once you bite in. Also, that bagel is fresh, possibly even still warm from the birthing process, so what are you even doing thinking about toasting it?

If you are one of those people who gets bagel sandwiches, with fixins that belong on regular bread or maybe even a roll, then you should probably toast it. It is an unscientific fact that cold cuts taste better on toasted bagels, something about the crispiness against the soft flesh of that turkey. Don't ask us! Ask science.

Now, if you get lox on that bagel, you need to go untoasted. This is the purist's way, and the purist's way is always the right way.

If you are putting lox on a frozen bagel, however, you need to put the bagel, along with your entire body, in the microwave and have a friend hit "start" and then walk away.

RAISIN BAGEL

Raisins belong nowhere, but they especially do not belong in a bagel. Why would you do this? We'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you really needed a bagel today, and the only thing left was raisin bagels, because no one orders those and they are plentiful at all hours. For this, you'll want to get toasted. Warm raisins are somehow better than cold raisins, because they sort of melt into the bagel dough when toasted. Don't ask us! Ask Satan, who created raisins.

EGG N' CHEESE HANGOVER BAGEL

These should always be on a toasted bagel. The extra warmth will soothe you. Mmm... soothing bagel.

SCOOPED BAGEL

Did you ask for the dough to be scooped out from your bagel? Really? You demanded that the soul of your bagel be removed? Well, neither toasting nor untoasted freshness can save you. Please leave bagels alone forever. We have nothing more to say to you.