Oberlin Blogs

Love Letter to the Cleveland Bagel Company

February 22, 2022

Ilana McNamara ’24

I’ve been gone for a month, and I couldn’t stop thinking about you. I’ve been a wreck, searching the streets and scouring all the bagel shops to find something like you. I’ve even tried making pale imitations of you, kneading, shaping, and boiling dough, but it’s just not the same. You’re special, one of a kind.

Some people might say “Cleveland? Bagels? No way!” They think you’re inferior to New York, or some other place with “authentic” bagels, but I know the truth. You’re different and you’re wonderful, perfect in my eyes. I almost didn’t believe it at first. But the first bite into your soft, doughy interior proved me wrong. I would never doubt you now. 

I’m lucky that you’re everywhere around me. In Stevenson Dining Hall, at Decafe, at the Local, in Slow Train, at events around campus - I can’t escape you. And I wouldn’t want to. Just you, me, and some whipped cream cheese is what heaven looks like in my eyes. And I recognize that sometimes, you can have too much of a good thing. I save you for special occasions, for times that I want to enjoy myself. But also sometimes I eat four of you in a day. Self-restraint is hard when it comes to you. 

Although all of your varieties are wonderful (Cinnamon Cranberry for the Sweet Tooths! Plain for the Traditionalists! Sea Salt for the Pirates! Everything for the Adventurers! Sesame for the Streets! Poppy for the Opium Addicts?), I have a soft spot for you, Rosemary Sea Salt. Your flavors are unmatched. Your color is exquisite (Green, my favorite! How did you know? I’m blushing). You’re just different enough that I know I’ll never find anything else like you. 

I hope our love isn’t one-sided. I don’t think it is, because your love for me shines through when I come back to you after a long day, or more accurately, at breakfast before a long day. You make me feel things I can’t help but to write questionable prose poetry about. 

What we have is special, but I know I’m not the only one that feels this way about you. You’re rated the best bagel in Cleveland (but you don’t need awards for me to know that you’re superior), and you’re sold out all the time. People can’t get enough of you. And while I would love to have you all to myself, you’re too good not to share. Everyone should have a piece of you at least once. 

I know our time is limited. I only have five years here, and who knows where I’ll be after that. But I promise to never forget you, and to relish all the moments I have with you. It’s difficult every break when we have to part, but coming back to Oberlin means coming back to you.

a hand gently caresses a bagel with rosemary and cream cheese, wrapped in foil, on a sunny day
the love of my life <3


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