Spotting the Problem

My local supermarket has an excellent line of fresh packaged bagels, better even than the local bagel shop’s. They’re not just great packaged bagels, they’re the best of any kind I’ve ever tasted outside New York.

And I’ll never buy any again. At least not from that store.

The problem started a couple of weeks ago, when I brought home a load of groceries from that supermarket that included a bag of onion bagels. I took the bagels out and began the process of pulling the halves completely apart (they come semi-split) so I could repackage them and stick them in the freezer. That way they’re easier to toast, plus they’re so big that I usually only eat half a bagel at a time.

That’s when I noticed the mold spots.

The bagels weren’t covered in them, but there were were enough to be noticeable. I took them back to the supermarket, and the young woman at the service counter asked if I wanted an exchange or my money back. I hesitated, then asked for the money, thinking that if that bag was bad, probably so were the others in that batch.

But after a week of eating regular toast, I craved those bagels. So on my next trip to the supermarket, I picked up a bag – only instead of just tossing it in my cart, I opened the bag and peeked inside.

The top bagel had some white spots. OK, I told myself, that could just be little smudges of flour.

But I removed the top bagel and looked at the next one. There were more spots, with that unmistakable green tint.

I think I know what the problem might be. Once, when I bought those bagels, I noticed that the bags were distinctly cold and had small beads of moisture on the inside. I think my “fresh” bagels were actually shipped frozen and allowed to slack out in the store for a few extra days of shelf life, creating moisture that led to the perfect environment for mold.

The morals, such as they are: Trying to fulfill the passion for fresh food has lots of challenges and pitfalls. Preservatives exist for a reason. And cheating is always a bad idea.