USA Today Mar 5, 1997

A NOVEL NOSH

Can you teach an old bagel new tricks?

Larry Baras thinks so.

He has created the UnHoley Bagel, which not only has no hole but also comes pre-filled with cream cheese.

The 44-year-old Boston-based financial planner frequently found himself eating one on the run, which usually meant grabbing a bagel and cream cheese at a convenience store. But he often ended up with more cheese on his tie and the steering wheel than on the bagel.

``They call it a convenience food, but I knew there had to be a better way.''

So Baras, riding a boom in the $2.6 million bagel business, worked with a local Boston-area bakery to develop a bagel that could be pumped full of cream cheese after baking. The result looks unorthodox, more like a dinner roll than a traditional New York-style bagel.

Baras knows purists might balk. ``People will think that not having the hole is sacrilegious. But they'll realize the hole is a pain: The filling always squirts out the middle.''

The UnHoley Bagel comes frozen. You can either toast, microwave, or thaw and eat at room temperature. It comes in standard bagel flavors like sesame, poppy and cinnamon raisin, as well as with regular, light or fat-free cream cheese. Cost is about 90 cents each. Baras is planning several new flavors and fillings, like peanut butter and jelly, or a chocolate-chip bagel with raspberry filling.

The UnHoley Bagel is available at BJ's Wholesale Clubs nationwide, as well as at several national grocery chains. Amtrak carries them, and Disney World will soon.

Baras sees his customer base growing to include college students, busy mothers and harried business executives.

Food watchers agree.

``I think this has a lot of possibilities,'' says Art Siemering of Trend/ Wire, a culinary newsletter. ``Bagels have become so common that people are open to new alternatives.''

In an informal taste test, USA TODAY staffers gave the UnHoley Bagel good marks for texture and taste. The crumbly consistency of the pre-frozen cream cheese bothered some testers. But overall, it got high marks for the convenience factor.