5 Bagel Throwdown

Seeing some talk about bagels on Twitter yesterday, I made a mental note to conduct an Edmonton bagel throwdown last night. Conquering what I could after 5 o’clock, I ended up with 5 examples of a sesame seed bagel. Why sesame seed? Flip of the coin really, as I my main concern was keeping the type of bagel the same and I wasn’t going to go sweet. So with my mission underway, I started making my way around the Edmonton in hunt.

Clockwise From Top Left; Save On, Superstore, Safeway, Sobeys, Tim Hortons

While I only ended up with 5 bagels, it wasn’t for a lack of effort. In fact, even my Safeway bagel required stopping at 4 locations before being lucky enough. I also stopped in at Planet Organic (no singles, or sesame seed), Bee Bell Bakery (closed at 5:30, I arrived at 6), Wal-Mart (only plain, blueberry, poppy seed), Great Canadian Bagel (closed) and Wild Earth Bakery and Grocery Store (no bagels). So I suppose I should be lucky that I was able to pick up examples from Save On Foods, Superstore, Sobeys, Tim Hortons and the previously mentioned Safeway. I realize there are plenty of bagel options, but I was keeping the test bagels to ones that were available in bins/loose (I only wanted to buy one) and not from a major bakery (Dempters for example) Now in no particular order;

Tim Hortons

Save On Foods




So have you suffered from picture overload? Just think of my jaw, that has now worked even harder than the time I tried to eat my shoe! I grew up on the classic (and true) bagels from Montreal, so I tried to keep those memories, and possible comparions to the back of my brain as I wet about eating these western version.

I shouldn’t be surprised in any way by the varying results, but there were some very notable things. Take for example the last two bagels (Superstore & Safeway), which were filled with pockets of air; that’s something you would never know from the outside right; or that the Sobeys bagel tasted like a bun with a hole in it. I did like that every bagel looked different, with none of the group looking like a machine-made bagel (even if they are). I also liked the variance in actual seed toppings; which clearly showed some bakers knew they were making a sesame seed bagel while might have considered the seeds an after-thought. From one bagel tasting like wonderbread (Sobeys), to one so loaded with sesame seeds that it was almost an unfair advantage (Safeway); this was a fun challenge. I understand that I can’t tell for sure when the bagel was made, but I’m working with what was available Friday around the supper hour. I’ll include a chart below to break down a few points, but should say that my favourite was the offering from Save On Foods. Tied for the title of heaviest bagel, it’s crusty like exterior hide a soft and dense interior that was fantastically chewy!

In order of my personal preference.

Store Exterior Texture Interior Texture Weight Interior Feel Chew Factor Price
Save On Foods Crusty Soft 121gr Dense High $0.80
Safeway Soft Med 107gr Light Mid $0.75
Superstore Soft Med 114gr Light Low $0.58
Tim Horton’s Crusty Soft 101gr Dense Low $1.10
Sobeys Soft Soft 121gr Dense Below Low $0.75

Now hopefully, along with your suggestions, I can round another 5 or so bagels up for round 2 of Bagel Throwdown!

10 thoughts on “5 Bagel Throwdown

  1. I might just take you up on that habanerogal. I considered making a batch of my own, but the three day process wasn’t very conducive in my hasty attempt to conquer the throwdown.

    White seed (sesame) or black seed (poppy) are the only way to go, and I think after years of eating, I’m still flip flopping over my favourite.

  2. In my experience the best bagels in the city are from The Bagelatte, which is based in sherwood park but sells at the old strathcona farmers market on the weekend.

  3. I’m with you habanerogal, “black” all the way although I certainly will put up with “white” if that is all that is available…last time I was in Calgary that was all that was on offer at Montreal Bagel.

    Hard to look at the ones posted above with the “perfect” centre holes and all that bread when you have been brought up on the ones from St. Viateur

    • Hard indeed. When I moved back west Bob, my entire family joked that bagels here were just buns with a thumb hole punched into them. Real bagels as we call them, along with pouring fresh warm maple syrup in the snow, are just a few of the things I miss.

  4. Wow Chris, you work fast! I’m a hand-rolled, wood-fired, sesame-seed bagel snob, and after years of disappointment in bagels purchased here, I decided to treat them as a totally different food type — bagel-style buns, if you will. I try to enjoy them for what they are, rather than comparing them to what they could be.
    I think, after all this tantalizing bagel talk, it might be time to arrange another shipment from St. Viateur, or beg my brother to ship me some from Solly’s in Vancouver. Maybe he’ll throw him some cinnamon buns!

    • It was a fun, albeit, mouth tiring adventure Kerry, but something that needed to be done (at least that’s what I’m telling myself)…The homestead used to have bagels shipped in all the time..maybe it’s time for another order.

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