Fragels Rock: A Bagel-Doughnut That Tastes Like Home

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Rooting for Ohio State isn't an easy thing for a native Michigander to do. But we Midwesterners believe conference loyalty trumps internecine rivalries (I'm told SEC fans take a different approach), so last night I cheered for the Buckeyes in the Sugar Bowl -- a task made exponentially easier by the presence of tight end Reid Fragel.

There are a few words that will make former Ann Arborites quake with nostalgia: Bo. Drake's. Fragel.

Like the town itself, a fragel's both utterly Midwestern and proudly urbane. It's a doughnut-bagel hybrid that for years was available only at The Bagel Factory, a bakery that in 1969 took over the South University location where Domino's founder Tom Monaghan made his first pizzas. When I was in high school, fragels were the only acceptable snack to bring to club meetings and post-game parties, which may explain why our teams weren't the terror of the Michigan High School Athletic Association. Fragels are such a critical component of Ann Arbor's culinary identity that WikiTravel advises tourists keen to get a sense of the town to find themselves a fragel.

The Bagel Factory shut down in the mid-1990s, but fragels are now sold at a strip-mall store called Bagel Fragel -- and, apparently, no place else.

I can't imagine why the fragel phenomenon hasn't spread. Unlike the everything bagels Paula Deen tossed in the deep-fryer back in 2008, proving the North wasn't safe from her high-fat techniques, fragels aren't ever boiled. While The Bagel Factory never revealed its exact recipe, the preparation involved deep-frying fresh raisin bagel dough -- which presumably didn't have as much sugar and egg as doughnut dough -- and then rolling the result in cinnamon sugar. Bagel Fragel seems to be putting cream cheese on its fragels, but that's entirely unnecessary: Plain, unadorned fragels are sweet and airy and chewy, and the perfect snack for Sunday mornings after football Saturdays.

Have you tried a fragel? Or (I've got my fingers crossed here) spotted one outside the confines of Washtenaw County?

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5 comments
Erin
Erin

Everyone seems to associate these only with Michigan, but there was at least one shop in Chicago that sold fragels back in the 80s. Bagel Nosh, I believe it was called. I remember going there with my sister who was attending college in the city at the time. It's not there now, and don't know when it opened or closed, but I remember the fragel. :)

btwinny
btwinny

mmmmmmmmm  I frequented the Bagel Fragel in MSU from 90-9-5ish.   The word fragel came up so randomly in a book I was reading today and it was described as "an Ann Arbor delicacy".   All I can say is I talked it up sooo much today a co-worker is going to go make some!!  She bough her hubby a deep fryer for Xmas and wants to give it a try...  she has never heard of them.  She is in for a treat and so am I if they turn out well!! 

WolverineinDallas
WolverineinDallas

Sadly Ann Arbor is now down to one Bagel Fragel on Plymouth Road. Other than that I think we are out of luck. Cream cheese is indeed needed however, particularly strawberry flavored.

Gwolfson
Gwolfson

I attended Michigan State University 1976-1977 and remember eating Fragels there. Tehy were quite yummy!

Sdillard3
Sdillard3

We lived in Southfield (Detroit burb) for several years and there was a bagel shop (next to the Star Deli - best corned beef ever!) off of Twelve Mile Road that sold Fragels. They were awesome. Thanks for the memory - now I'm hungry.

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