But Bill de Blasio, following a failed presidential campaign, managed to cause a particularly unusual uproar.
In a Twitter post Wednesday, de Blasio declared his love for a bagel that fits his political persona: the Bagel Hole bakery in Park Slope, Brooklyn, which serves a chewy and celebrated variety in the leafy neighborhood where the mayor raised his family.
Then he crossed into treacherous territory for bagel aficionados: He said his go-to bagel was whole wheat with extra cream cheese. Toasted.
New Yorkers first responded with indignation, asserting that a good bagel should never be toasted.
Scorn immediately followed: Bagel Hole does not, in fact, toast its sacred treats.
De Blasio quickly deleted the post and added a corrected version that removed all mention of the word toast.
He seemed to take the kerfuffle in stride, responding to one critic: “What can I say, I must have a hole in my memory.”
The toasted tumult, which was christened BagelGate on social media, spawned salty bagel puns and started a conversation about finding the best bagel in a city known for its culinary hegemony.
There were smears, or perhaps schmears, against his choice, and some defenders cried, “No one has lox on the subject.”
Elected officials saw an opportunity to step into the bagel leadership vacuum. Keith Powers, a city councilman in Manhattan, offered a more popular pick: “Everything bagel, not toasted, Ess-A-Bagel” — another popular bakery in Manhattan.
Brad Hoylman, a state senator, posted a poll: “OK, New York, it’s time to answer the essential question of the day: Is toasting a bagel a crime?” As of late afternoon, “Yes, toasting is a crime” was losing to “No, I like ruining bagels.”
It was not the first dining gaffe for de Blasio, who was born in New York but grew up outside Boston.
In 2014, he was famously caught eating pizza with a fork in Staten Island. He was chastised for not eating the slice with his hands but defended his decision.
“In my ancestral homeland, it’s more typical to eat with a fork and knife,” said de Blasio, whose mother was Italian.
Eating on the campaign trail is a rite of passage for candidates, but it can backfire. An ally of the mayor, Cynthia Nixon, was criticized for her bagel preference in 2018 when she ran for governor (unsuccessfully) against Andrew Cuomo. She ordered a cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese, lox and capers — an odd choice she described as “sweet and salty.”
Twitter can be equally perilous. Another New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg, made a series of strange posts that mostly fell flat on Twitter on Tuesday night during the Democratic presidential debate.
Bloomberg’s campaign said it was not hacked and instead was “having a little fun” since its candidate did not appear at the debate.
The question of whether bagels should be toasted has been debated in New York City for years. One famed bakery, Murray’s Bagels, announced in 2015 that it would toast a bagel upon request, though its leaders believed the step was not necessary.
The Bagel Hole bakery in Park Slope is a bit sacrosanct about its nontoasting policy. Its website says it offers only “hand rolled, old style bagels” baked to a crisp golden brown.
“There’s no need to toast the bagel,” said Philip Romanzi, owner of Bagel Hole, who was overseas Wednesday and missed out on most of the bagel controversy. “Truthfully, if it’s a fresh bagel, it doesn’t taste good after you toast it.”
Romanzi then offered a compromise more befitting a politician. “Maybe,” he allowed, “you toast it the next day.”
This article originally appeared in The New York Times .