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December 16: The Bagel Famine

December 16, 2013
stk87714corBagel Bakers Local 338 closed thirty-two out of thirty-four bagel bakeries in a slow-down and strike on this date in 1951, leading to what the New York Times the next day called “a bagel famine” as only two bagel-makers tried to keep up with the city’s weekly demand for 1.2 million bagels. Sales of lox also dropped by as much as 30 to 50 percent, according to the Times (which ran the subhead, “Labor Dispute Puts Hole in Supply.”) The strike, involving some 300 specialized bakers, lasted for seven weeks. Local 338 struck or threatened a strike five times in sixteen years between 1951 and 1967, by which time many bakeries had replaced the union workers and their exacting standards with bagel-making machines. “Protect your bagels — put lox on them.” —