The Man Who Helped Bring Bagels To Supermarket Aisles Has Passed Away

Raise some lox and your knifeful of cream cheese to pay homage: Murray Lender, the man who was widely credited with bringing the family business, Lender’s Bagels, from a small bakery to grocery stores nationwide, has passed away at 81.

Lender was known for his appearance in TV ads for the company, notes the Associated Press (via ABC News), and helped introduce many American to bagels for the first time. Before Lender’s Bagels showed up in grocery stores, bagels were mainly sold to Jewish families at local bakeries.

Lender and his family claimed they were the first to begin selling bagels in packages to supermarkets back in 1955. Then in 1960, after his father died, Lender and the company began freezing the bagels so they could be shipped across the country, and from there, the wonderful bundles of carbs arrived in American homes.

The business was sold to Kraft Foods in 1984, and has been owned by Pinnacle Foods Group LLC since 2003. Lender remained the company spokesman after its sale, however.

“The frozen bagel is convenient, which is important to today’s on-the-go consumers,” Murray Lender told the AP in 1986, adding that he didn’t care about criticism that Lender’s Bagels weren’t that tasty.

“Taste is a very subjective matter,” he told the AP. “It’s clear and simple: We make 2¬æ million bagels a day. Obviously an awful lot of people are happy with it.”

Bagel Guru Murray Lender Dies at Age 81 in Fla. [ABC News]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Blueskylaw says:

    The bagels probably tasted good before they sold to Kraft. It’s usually after a family business is sold to a national conglomerate that it goes to hell; not that one cares about it after receiving hundreds of millions of dollars.

    • zandar says:

      you’re saying you don’t like them, then? I have been buying (and liking) them for years and haven’t detected a difference.

      • tbax929 says:

        So have I. I’m not an expert on bagels, but I like them just fine.

        • Blueskylaw says:

          They are fine for what they are, the Budweiser of bagels, mass produced and frozen for convenience. Once you’ve had a really good freshly made bagel you can start to appreciate the difference.

          If you started a bagel company, wouldn’t you brag about how delicious they are? All you have Murray saying is that “taste is a very subjective matter” and that they make 2¬æ million bagels a day, which is a far cry from calling them tasty.

    • NickRayko says:

      They were crap in the 70s, when I was a kid, at least in comparison to real NYC bagels.

    • morpheus4356 says:

      Blueskylaw talking out of his butt, once again about something he has no idea about.

  2. Tim says:

    Those are NOT bagels. Those are pieces of bread shaped like bagels.

    • kerry says:

      Most supermarket shelf-stable bagels are just glorified rolls. Lenders frozen bagels were much more authentic (and tasty) than you’re giving them credit for.

  3. PaulR says:

    It’s clear and simple. If they’re not from St-Viateur or from Fairmount , they’re not bagels.

    They’re just bread in the shape of a doughnut.

  4. Sarek says:

    We used to have to suffer with Abel’s frozen bagels. They made Lender’s taste gourmet.

  5. cunnij says:

    I would have liked to seen Murray Lender and Dr. Atkins in a cage match…

  6. tooluser says:

    The wild Alaskan smoked salmon at Costco is awful. The flavor is okay but the texture is all wrong. It’s mushy and has fibers in it.

  7. katarzyna says:

    Ouch, people here are harsh. Lender’s bagels aren’t nearly as good as bagels from an independent shop, obviously, but for a pre-packaged frozen thing you can pop in your toaster at 5 am, they did the job.

    RIP, Mr Lender.

  8. SkokieGuy says:

    “Before Lender’s Bagels showed up in grocery stores, bagels were delicious”

    There, fixed it.

  9. eezy-peezy says:

    My supermarket has an on-site bagel bakery – they make the best.

  10. gparlett says:

    Lender’s are just terrible, terrible bagels…

  11. TerpBE says:

    I think this is just the beginning of the Mondelez curse.

  12. SmokeyBacon says:

    Ok, I admit it – I love Lender’s Bagles. BUT – I don’t put them in the same catagory as other types of bagels. I look at them as their own unique item, kind of the same way I look at Taco Bell (like it but it isn’t Mexican food) and Gardenburgers (ok, the old Gardenburgers – they changed them and are crap now) – love them but you could not consider them to be a replacement for a hamburger because they just aren’t. If you go in thinking “this is a bagel” you will be disapointed, but if you go in thinking “this is a Lenders” then it helps (unless you just hate them anyway, but that is a different story). If you don’t expect “bagel” then it works (because really they are so different than a real fresh made bakery/deli bagel that I think they need a different name).

  13. ZacharyTF says:

    I think Consumerist should do a post asking people what kind of bagels they eat and what they put on them.

    I eat wheat bagels with cream cheese and salami or wheat bagels with peanut butter, honey, and strawberry jelly. I also eat blueberry bagels with cream cheese on them.

    I estimate about 95% of the bagels I’ve eaten in my lifetime have been Lender’s bagels. Yes, I notice a difference between a Lender’s bagel and one I can get at the local breakfast joint, but considering I can get six Lender’s bagels for about $1.50, I’ll gladly eat those.

  14. Senator says:

    you call that a bagel?

  15. joako says:

    I have a fresh bagel from a local place every day. NOT toasted with cream cheese. Real bagels don’t need to be toasted.