I brought a bagel into the office for breakfast, but the only knife in the office sharp enough to cut bagels has gone missing. I tried to shove it into the toaster anyways, but it was too big. I've got some peanut butter and cream cheese, but no way to spread it, and I don't want to eat the bagel plain.

How can I go about eating this bagel with some spreads on it in order to add some flavour to it?


10 Answers 10


Knives are useful tools for cutting bagels and applying delicious spreads such as peanut butter or cream cheese, but luckily if you are missing this implement, you can still enjoy your bagel with 3 easy steps.

  1. Rip your bagel into dunkable pieces.
  2. Swipe them through the peanut butter or cream cheese.
  3. Cram them into your gullet.

enter image description here

  • 7
    Questioner mentioned toasting the bagel -- this won't allow that.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Jan 11, 2016 at 14:31
  • 6
    @ZeissIkon Toasting the bagel isn't a requirement.
    – Wipqozn
    Jan 11, 2016 at 14:32
  • 1
    @Wipqozn Thanks for clarifying that. Downvote retracted.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Jan 11, 2016 at 14:33
  • 12
    @Sterno I think all your upvotes are mainly for using the word 'gullet' in the same sentence as the word 'cram'.
    – fredley
    Jan 11, 2016 at 19:54
  • 8
    Upvote for use of the word "gullet". Jan 11, 2016 at 20:30

If you can find some dental floss or thread, you can use that to cut the bagel. Wrap it around the circumference (as in picture), then cross ends and pull through. Bagel ready for the toaster.

enter image description here

  • 6
    Might need someone to hold the bagel in place, because it's not just going to sit there and let that happen like the cake in the photo. Good idea tho!
    – JPhi1618
    Jan 11, 2016 at 17:31
  • 9
    @JPhi1618 - You don't saw through, you bring the string all the way around, cross one over the other, then then pull tight. The string will then start to cut into the bagel, keep pulling until the loop is gone and the bagel is cut. It will stay put.
    – Debbie M.
    Jan 11, 2016 at 18:00
  • 10
    For a bagel?! No way! :)
    – user70848
    Jan 12, 2016 at 1:11
  • 25
    Cakes are very soft. Most bagels are very hard. This seems only workable with a very soft bagel to begin with and it does not solve the spread problem.
    – Aaron Hall
    Jan 12, 2016 at 15:22
  • 1
    The crust of a bagel is much harder than the interior. Making a starter incision with a fingernail or the end of another utensil might help by giving the string an edge to start cutting along. Jan 12, 2016 at 16:15

Look around and see if you can spot a letter opener (old usage was "paper knife"). It's likely to be sharp enough, with patience, to cut the bagel, and it will surely work to spread your peanut butter and cream cheese.

Failing that, a plastic fork from the lunch room can probably be used to split the bagel (push the tines in repeatedly along a line where you'd normally cut; when you've worked your way all around, the bagel should split easily along the perforations), and will also spread the toppings, after a fashion.

  • 6
    "letter opener (letter knife, the British call them)" Nope, we call them letter openers. Google ngram says "paper knife" was the predominant term in the US until the 1940s, and here until the late 1980s (which I didn't know until now). And "letter knife" has barely any usage in either locale. Jan 11, 2016 at 18:16
  • @LightnessRacesinOrbit Okay, noted and corrected.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Jan 11, 2016 at 18:33
  • 1
    :)​​​​​​​​​​​​​ Jan 11, 2016 at 18:35
  • Or a paper knife of the more literal definition... Jan 11, 2016 at 18:45
  • 1
    @SteveJessop Are not baby burgers made out of baby? Isn't it true that before you can rejoice, first you must joice? Do you not drive on a driveway and park on a parkway? Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana. Does not a fire engine produce fire and a secret agent sell secrets? Doesn't a woman marry two men: her husband marries her and the minister marries her, too? I don't pronounce "paper knife" differently in any situation.
    – ErikE
    Jan 12, 2016 at 20:34

find a piece of plastic like a telephone card or a credit card, abrade the edge against a rough surface like a stone or even bite little dents in it, or use any metal object, and use that to cut. takes 2 minutes.

find a magazine cover, glossy one, or a plastic film, put a book on the bread and use it as a knife, if it's abraded it will be faster.

find a thin wire like a copper wire, abrade it, use it like a cheese cutter.

  • Never thought of using a credit card, must try that.
    – RedSonja
    Jan 12, 2016 at 9:03
  • 1
    I was going to suggest a credit card, with a note to say it mightn't be very good for your credit card to be used as a knife!
    – CJ Dennis
    Jan 12, 2016 at 10:26
  • 2
    I keep some old (used) giftcards around for various utility purposes like these
    – Uberfuzzy
    Jan 12, 2016 at 16:01

Some toasters in the UK* have a warming rack that can be used to heat bagels, crumpets and the like. The warming rack is a pop-up that allows you to perch your larger items above the slots, to warm the item with the rising heat.

Toaster with warming rack

Simple use the warming rack to warm your bagel, and then dip it using @Sterno's method.

*Apparently this also applies to most of Western Europe, but not to the USA. Unfortunately the USA is where most bagels are consumed, which rather limits the usefulness of this answer!

  • 15
    I've never seen an above-the-toaster warming rack like that before. Interesting.
    – Bobson
    Jan 11, 2016 at 17:21
  • 8
    /concur with @Bobson. I think I would disagree with the opening sentence of this answer "Most toasters have..."
    – McKay
    Jan 11, 2016 at 20:22
  • 4
    It's fairly common at least in Western Europe. Which, as I see it, would leave a relatively small intersection between the two sets [regions where warming racks on toasters are common] and [regions where bagels for breakfast are common], to the detriment of this solution.
    – Dubu
    Jan 11, 2016 at 22:30
  • 2
    @SeanR - Really? I am surprised. To be clear: the rack isn't up permanently; there's a little button/lever you press to raise the rack into position. I might do some research later and see what percentage of toasters have this rack.
    – AndyT
    Jan 12, 2016 at 10:35
  • 2
    @SeanR - Right, research done: I searched for Toaster on Amazon.co.uk. I was surprised to find that none of the first six results had one! And looking in the work kitchenette, that one doesn't have a rack either. Obviously I just randomly pick toasters with it: both my new and previous toaster at home (from different manufacturers) have it.
    – AndyT
    Jan 12, 2016 at 12:35

use a pair of scissors, either as a defacto knife, or in their intended way. give them a clean first!

  • This might work with kitchen scissors. Paper scissors are unlikely to be sharp enough.
    – AndyT
    Jan 12, 2016 at 9:05
  • standards scissors found in an office would be suitable. safety scissors for children might not cut the mustard...
    – Adam
    Jan 13, 2016 at 2:50
  • 3
    @Adam: where did mustard come into it? Don't...no...DON'T tell me you put MUSTARD on your BAGELS?!?!? AGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!! (Unless it's a good quality stone-ground mustard, preferably with horseradish added...and some mayonnaise...and roast beef...yummmmmm.... :-) Jan 13, 2016 at 2:59
  • 1
    Bagels aren't big in Australia, but I'd probably go with Vegemite rather than mustard anyway
    – Adam
    Jan 13, 2016 at 3:50

Take a bite of the bagel, then scoop your finger into the respective peanut butter or cream cheese, and place it into your mouth at the same time you have the bite of bagel in your mouth.

Mash up food in your mouth together. It's a little bit involved, but it is satisfying doing things for yourself!


If you pinch the bagel with both hands, thumbs inside the hole and fingers around the circumference, then use enought force to break through the crust with your thumbs (those with long nails may find this easier), then pull gently apart, but not completely, you'll have separated a portion of the bagel close to the middle. Rotate your fingers and thumb slightly and perform the process again. Do this repeatedly and soon you'll have two halves of the bagel, as though you'd cut them with a knife, though much more ragged.

They will now fit into the toaster.

For spreading, you can simply use your fingers, but if keeping your fingers clean is important or you can't wash them afterwards, use a napkin or paper towel wrapped around a finger or two to gather the spread and apply it to the bagel halves.


Your car keys might work in a pinch (for cutting anyhow). Clean them thoroughly first, of course. For spreading, a plastic spoon works just as well as a knife. Failing that, you can always use your finger for spreading. A bit messy, and unhygienic if others are sharing your cream cheese, but otherwise effective.


What is wrong with you all? Have you forgotten about MacGyver?!

All it takes to solve this problem is one of each of the following:

  • Paper clip
  • Pen
  • Rubber band

Once you have secured the above items, follow these steps:

  1. Unwind the paper clip and STAB the bagel where you will begin cutting it. Then proceed to saw your way through it and around it until you have a nice bagel cut in two. Pop these two slices in the toaster.
  2. Dismantle the pen, leaving only the long housing piece. Wash this piece and dry it.
  3. Once your bagel is done toasting, spread your desired spreads on the bagel using your clean spreader from the previous step.
  4. Enjoy!

But wait... what about the rubber band, you say? To be honest, we'll have to ask MacGyver why we'd need a rubber band here! Nonetheless, this is as MacGyver-like as it gets without the real MacGyver. For the meantime, I guess you can just wear the rubber band around your wrist as a bracelet as you eat your tasty bagel.

P.S. After you've devoured your meal, bend paper clip back in place, wash the pen housing piece and reassemble the pen, take off your rubber band bracelet, and return these three items to their places before anyone finds evidence of what took place and starts hailing you as the office hero!

  • The rubber band is obviously to chase away coworkers who try to steal your bagel.
    – Elva
    Jan 22, 2016 at 11:36

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