Like the perverse maze of LLCs and shell companies conjured by the ultra-wealthy to dodge billions in taxes, a New York City bagel company's gimmick to avoid the state's "prepared sandwich tax" has resulted in something deeply misanthropic and viscerally repulsive—the cream cheese-stuffed bagel.
Yes, we New Yorkers pay the 8.875 percent sales tax on "prepared sandwiches," and that includes bagels that have been buttered, schmeared, or otherwise assembled into tasty, time-honored creations.
According to a press release from Philadelphia Cream Cheese (parent company: Kraft Heinz Company) and New York City's H&H Bagels, the companies joined forces to "address the New York bagel tax head-on." That is: by injecting bagels with cream cheese to avoid any "preparation."
Thus, the "Tax-Free Bagel" was born. On Monday morning, we traveled to the H&H Bagels location at Moynihan Station to sample one.
After being informed that the only available variety was cinnamon raisin ("People have been buying them like crazy," the clerk told us, presumably talking about travelers en route home to faraway distant lands, and not humans who know and understand how decent bagels are supposed to taste), we paid our $1.90 (no tax!) and waited a few minutes for the bagel to be toasted.
The first thing to note about the Tax-Free Bagel is its unnervingly supple (spineless?) carriage. There is no pleasant crust, no toothsome bite to this bagel, just a kind of doughy waterbed texture. This bagel pulses with the blood of cream cheese, and the knowledge that God is dead.
After a few bites, the cool cream cheese contrasted unfavorably with the barely warm bagel. This may have been an unfortunate side effect of the cinnamon raisin flavor, but the cream cheese itself lacked the necessary and familiar sour tang. Instead, it was sweet and overly whipped, giving this bagel the overall taste profile of a sweet pastry. We couldn't finish it.
The Tax-Free Bagel is only available through tomorrow, which is Tax Day. But the truth is that anyone who orders one of these is going to pay a heavy tax, levied squarely on their dignity.