Welcome to the Great Bagel Boom, a series celebrating the vast creative expanses of bagel culture across America—because yes, you can find truly wonderful bagels outside of New York now.

People have strong opinions on sweet bagels. Go online and you’ll find that most people think they’re not as complex as savory bagel sandwiches, that the taste of the bread “clashes with sweetness,” that bagels are simply only good at being vessels for bacon, egg, and cheese or scallion schmear. But I disagree. Sweet bagel sandwiches can be just as complex, and it’s time we give them the respect they deserve.

Sure, rainbow bagels and funfetti cream cheese gave the sweet bagel sandwich a bad name. A new set of destination bagel shops across the country, though, are churning out legit good sweet bagel sandwiches: bagels with cream cheese and house-made guava jelly in Milwaukee; bagels topped with sliced banana and peanut butter blended with coconut, maple, and toasted seeds in Maine; and open-faced bagels featuring labneh, roasted strawberries, and slivers of pickled fennel in New Orleans. And I ask you this: If you order chocolate chip pancakes or syrupy waffles, why not show the sweet bagel sandwich some love once in a while too?

One of my favorite newfangled sweet bagel sandwiches comes from Korshak Bagels in South Philly. When I first visited in April, I had every intention of ordering a savory breakfast sandwich. Then I saw the three most beautiful words: Banana Foster Wallace. One of the staffers, who saw me standing there with my mouth open down to my feet, recommended that I order the spread on a cinnamon raisin bagel. I did, and when I unwrapped it, I found layers of marshmallow fluff and warm banana tahini jam—a medley of sticky-sweet, warm, and nutty flavors—heated to caramelly perfection. It was almost as if the cinnamon raisin bagel was made for this moment (cinnamon and raisin toast pairs wonderfully with honeyed tahini and banana, after all). One bite and I had unlocked a new core memory. I was sitting on a bench with my partner, eating what was basically a Bananas Foster for breakfast.

The sticky-sweet glory of the Banana Foster Wallace is undeniable.Photograph by Breanne Furlong for Bon Appétit

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