Is This Really the Best Way to Cut a Bagel?

February 20, 2017

Friends, I’m sorry to report that Business Insider is at it again. Mere days after demanding I pulverize my eggshells into a powder, the company surfaced a video featuring mathematician Eugenia Cheng attached to some remarkably brazen social copy: “This is the best way to cut a bagel,” sans punctuation.

What follows is a video of one minute and 47 seconds, groovy National Geographic documentary music to boot, that purports to show the best way to cut a bagel “according to math.” Cheng, who assumes the role of narrator, claims that a bagel is better cut along a Möbius strip, a spiral structure that resembles a twisted galaxy, rather than into its traditional two halves. Some extremely crafty and cumbersome knife work later, the bagel opens up without splitting in two. That, Cheng says, makes it easier to spread cream cheese along the bagel.

Okay. Let’s unpack this.

  1. I had to watch this video at least eight times to understand how, exactly, you’re supposed to wield your knife when doing this.
  2. I will definitely hurt myself while trying to cut my precious Möbius Bagel. Like, it's just a guarantee.
  3. How do you toast this so-called Möbius Bagel? Anyone have a toasting vestibule that’s fat enough for this baby? I don’t.
  4. No.

If you cut your bagel like this, please let me know.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • trvlnsandy
  • W J Freeman
    W J Freeman
  • Linda
  • Arthur Morley
    Arthur Morley
  • Sarah B
    Sarah B
Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.


trvlnsandy February 8, 2018
Why are these comments coming up now?!! This was posted over a year ago. Interesting.
Ricci N. February 8, 2018
Because this article was repurposed in an email this morning.
trvlnsandy February 8, 2018
W J. February 8, 2018
Manifoldly hilarious! But since the bagel sliced this way has only one surface, what is smeared on the "outside" is also smeared on the "inside." Thus, in principle one could just dip the Moebius bagel into the vat or block of cream cheese and be done.

However, I like to slice my bagels to form a Klein Bottle so what is on the outside is also on the inside. Now where did I put my four-dimensional knife?

P.S. Read Eugenia Cheng's books. She is infinitely entertaining and likes to work food, particularly cookies and cakes, into her math discussions whenever she can.
Linda February 8, 2018
This isn't about cooking or a "better way" to cut a bagel. It's about math. And it would be a marvelous way to teach teenagers about Moibus strips. I doubt I could manage to do it, but I think it's a brilliant way to teach a mathematical concept.
Arthur M. February 8, 2018
I did ask my Butler to open my bagel that way.
I miss him, he was the best I ever employed.

My wife refuses, even with the light off!
Sarah B. October 22, 2017
That's an incredible amount of cream cheese for 1 bagel
Ron S. October 21, 2017
Commies !!!!!
Karl E. August 15, 2017
Samantha V. August 15, 2017
It's an amusing math thing, but not practical for general eating purposes.
trvlnsandy February 27, 2017
I still won' toast a fresh bagel - but if that's how you like it, fine. But I am going to try cutting one like this, just for the fun of it. Who knows - I might like it. Won't know until I try.
Tatiana February 26, 2017
Clearly that was not a New York bagel. That was just a bagel shaped piece of bread from somewhere else. I know from experience. Living on the west coast, I miss New York bagels.
Liane February 26, 2017
Is it just me? I dislike sticking a 1 1/2 - 2" diameter piece of bagel in my mouth. It's just too much to chew at once. That's why I cut them in half to eat open face style: eatability. Traditionally, delis in Philly only served bagels open face with fish and/or cream cheese. The concept of a bagel sandwich with other meats changed this.
Maedl February 26, 2017
Considering the measly amount of cream cheese she schmears on that bagel, she doesn't know from bagels!
trvlnsandy February 26, 2017
but, on both sides... Although, I prefer mine open face.
Robin J. February 24, 2017
I've never done it, but I'm a mathematician (cooking is really just math in disguise) and I love anything that showcases math in cooking (and I love Möbius strips -- I just knit myself a Möbius cowl)
Daddybot February 21, 2017
I cut my bagel into 3 and sometimes 4 slices. The idea is to maximize the surfaces for your favorite topping.
Tara T. February 21, 2017
whhhyyyyy? why do we need to complicate the most simple things? slice. cream cheese. eat. done.
trvlnsandy February 21, 2017
to amaze and delight your friends
trvlnsandy February 21, 2017
if it's a fresh bagel, shouldn't need toasting
Ann-Marie D. February 21, 2017
I prefer to eat all bread products toasted, and especially a bagel! Spreading cream cheese on a fresh bagel is like nails on a chalkboard! :)
AndyL February 21, 2017
Obviously you havent been to Burlington Vt and eaten one of Llyod's Montreal bagels fresh out the wood oven split and schmeared.. toast is for day olds and tossers.
trvlnsandy February 21, 2017
that's what I've always thought. When toasted - lose the chew of the crust
Yvonne February 26, 2017
Kathy C. February 8, 2018
Now I need to go to Burlington....
Whiteantlers February 21, 2017
No way. She had what seemed like a soft, mushy bagel. How would you toast a Mobius cut bagel? This looked like an ER visit waiting to happen.
Ann-Marie D. February 21, 2017
This is as much nonsense as letting KellyAnne Conway on any morning show. Please stop the madness!!!
Meisenman February 21, 2017
melissa February 20, 2017
this is worse than the pea guacamole debacle of '16...