It’s a Schmear Job: Apple’s New Bagel Emoji Brings Purists’ Tempers to a Boil

October 6, 2018, 12:14 AM UTC

In a time of national and international strife, it’s good to know people can still fight about the little things, too. In this case, it’s a bagel. Not one you can eat or cover with cream cheese, lox, onions, and capers. No, it’s the new bagel emoji—more specifically, the one drawn by Apple that will appear in the 12.1 update to its iPhone and iPad operating system.

Apple’s bagel’s too smooth, they’re saying. It looks like it was made by—and worse, sliced by—a machine, people complain. This puts the company on one side of the great schism between freshly made bagels—which should be eaten without toasting, and which may be frozen for later enjoyment—and mass-produced bagels extruded by heartless machinery, and which immediately go into sub-zero conditions.

There’s room for both kinds, as the massive sales of freezer bagels show. But this mishegoss leaves Apple open to a lot of tsorres. Translation for the gentiles: Apple’s nonsense opens it to troubles, at least of the humorous kind.

And, of course, brands get into the act, like Kraft’s Philadelphia cream cheese.

As did H&H Bagels in New York.

Some attribute the problem to the difference between coasts.

But let’s roll things back a moment. Emoji largely get adopted by the Unicode Consortium, a trade group that mostly handles how the characters and symbols (“glyphs”) of languages, scientific notation, and other fields get expressed and name so that one letter or Chinese character appears identically on every device and in every operating system.

Groups petition to add emoji, creating proposals for things like dumplings, a woman wearing a hijab-style headscarf, lobsters—and bagels.

If approved by the consortium, each operating system maker and some social networks and other platforms—like Twitter, Facebook, and Slack—create a graphical design that matches the style of their existing set.

In Apple’s case, the semi-serious online furore is over how un-bagel-like its depiction of the round bread is.

People who adore the handmade nature of a bagel, even at a chain shop which produces them by the hundreds of millions, like a bagel that shows a human was involved.

But cutting it open with a serrated bread knife is the key. The irregular, slightly torn faces present more surface area than machine-sliced perfection, allowing better adhesion of oleic-based condiments.

But those who prefer or tolerate one kind of bagel or the other largely agree on one thing: Apple’s bagel! So dry. Where’s the cream cheese?