House of Bagels' "cragel," a tasty mashup of croissant and bagel, has inadvertently stepped on some toes. Scot Rosillo of the Bagel Store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a self-proclaimed "bagel artist" who claims to have invented the cragel and that "Everything Else Is A [sic] Imitation." "Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but there's no substituting the real thing," Rossillo told SF Weekly, noting his hybrid's appearances on the Food Network and the Chew.
Jenny Puente of House of Bagels tried smoothing things over, writing Rosillo to assure him that her shop is "conservative with releasing new products" and had been perfecting their cragel for a year -- and noting that the trademark is actually held by a Canadian company. She also told SF Weekly that some of the Bagel Store's allegedly unique creations -- like a rainbow bagel -- are things House of Bagels has been doing for years. "Incidentally, we get requests and ship these to New York," Puente said.
In a sense, Rosillo's rhetoric is par for the course. That other quintessential New York edible commodity -- pizza -- is also where you find meaningless bluster as ten thousand neighborhood pizzerias fall over themselves to differentiate their pies from the competition. (Every other pizza box says "You're tried the rest, now try the best," even though most are pretty similar. Freud called this the "narcissism of small difference.")
This defensive territorialism goes beyond ordinary chutzpah, though. "Ours tastes better" has become "Yours is illegitimate." Apparently, the bagel and all its offshoots now require an AOC to make sure that every pretender baked outside of Kings County, N.Y. has to suffer the hideous ignominy of being a mere facsimile of the one and only.
House of Bagels' cragel sells for $2.95. It's really good (and there's a bread pudding version). And it might not be globally unique, but it's the closest cragel for 3000 miles.
House of Bagels, 5030 Geary Blvd., (415) 752-6000.