Striking bakers, 1929
Striking bakers, 1929
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Grub Street posted a long and fascinating tale on Wednesday by Jason Turbow called “How New York’s Bagel Union Fought — and Beat — a Mafia Takeover.” There is quite a bit about the mob, but really it’s a history of the rise and fall of Local 338, New York City’s union of bagel-makers, and how it resisted both capitalist oppression and the mob, only to be done in by machine-made bagels. (“So dire were [working] conditions,” Turbow writes, “that they even inspired a Yiddish curse: Lig in der erd un bak beygl. ‘Lay in the ground and bake bagels.’ (Alternatively translated: ‘Go to hell and bake bagels.’)”) Both Turbow’s grandfather and great-grandfather were members of the union—his great-grandfather was, in fact, one of the founders—so he has more than a casual interest in the story. And if you’re a bagel purist, it will make you despise Lender’s even more than you already do.

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Aimee Levitt is associate editor of The Takeout.

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