A bagel has been called a “roll with a hole” (or “roll with the hole") since at least 1944. The rhyming “roll-with-a-hole” made a newspaper headline by at least 1972.
Another name for the bagel includes “cement doughnut.”
15 February 1944, Troy (NY) Record, “Bagel Mystery Baffles Police,” pg. 1, col. 3:
New York (AP)—The theft of a truckload of 1,560 bagels yesterday confronted police with a mystery—they wanted to know what a bagel was.
Sam Elder, of Fisher’s Bagel Bakery, explained. He said a bagel was a roll with a hole in the middle. Some people like them for breakfast.
8 March 1945, Indiana (PA) Evening Gazette, pg. 15, col. 3:
A bagel is a roll with a hole in the center like a doughnut and is very tasty.
17 May 1955, Mansfield (OH) News-Journal, “Anti-Trust And Bagel Holes” by George E. Sokolsky, pg. 12, col. 2:
A BAGEL is a hard roll with a hole in the middle. he advantae of the hole has never been discovered. The bagel is manufactured by kneading bread dough, making rings of it, boiling the rings, putting a glaze on and baking the whole thing until indigestion is guaranteed unless one is a bagel fan.
3 October 1963, New York (NY) Times, “Bagel Bakeries See the Light and Retail Business Blossoms” by Sydney H. Schanberg, pg. 37:
All concerned are happy that the good old days are gone—the Health Department, which now has few problems with the bakeries; the owners, who sell about 2,000,000 bagels a week, and the union bakers, whose deft hands give life to the plain roll with the hole in the middle.
27 September 1972, Daily Kennebec Journal (Kennebec, ME), pg. 16, col. 1:
Role with a hole becomes
more popular with non Jews
NEW YORK (AP)—Comedians have made it a staple of their repertoires. A cement doughnut, they’ve called it. The scone of stone.
But the bagel has become a favorite treat of an estimated six million Americans since Jewish immigrants first brought the “roll with the hole” to U.S. shores at the end of the last century.
Google News Archive
7 May 1975, The Ledger (Lakeland, FL), pg. 1C, col. 1:
The Bagel: Chewy Roll-With-A-Hole Goes National
1 February 1976, Northwest Arkansas Times (Fayetteville, AR), “Premier Sunday Crossword” by Jo Paquin, pg. 8C, col. 1:
49 Roll with a hole
10 October 1985, Huntingdon (PA) Daily News, pg. 21, col. 5:
NEW YORK (UPI)—A Brooklyn baker might describe the pre-baking process for the famous roll with a hole as “berling bagels,” and that is close to what happened at a luncheon at Manhattan’s 21 Club.
Comic Milton Berle—who claims to have delivered the world’s first bagel joke—honored the world’s largest bagel distributor Thursday. He said 65 years ago—when he was 12—he was the one to describe the bagel as “a donut dipped in cement.” The line has become a standard today in the stand-up comic’s repertoire.
“That’s the standard, and who should know more about schtick and standard jokes than Uncle Miltie?” he said.
16 October 1985, Syracuse (NY) Post-Standard, pg. F12, col. 4:
Americans Love Roll With Hole
New York City • Food/Drink • (0) Comments • Friday, September 04, 2009 • Permalink