The man who made America fall in love with bagels: Murray Lender, who created world's largest bagel bakery, dies after fall in Florida home


The bagel pioneer credited with helping to bring bagels into homes across America has died in Florida after suffering from a fall.

Murray Lender, 81, helped transform his father's small Connecticut bakery into the largest bagel bakery in the world which were the first to ship frozen bagels.

Lender’s Bagels were the first company to transport their bagels frozen meaning they could reach areas which had never tried them before without becoming stale.

Pioneer: Murray Lender, who passed away yesterday, is credited with bringing the bagel into homes across America

Pioneer: Murray Lender, who passed away yesterday, is credited with bringing the bagel into homes across America

Bagel business: Murray Lender helped transformed his father's company into the largest bagel bakery in the world

Bagel business: Murray Lender helped transformed his father's company into the largest bagel bakery in the world

Lender, who was well-known as the face of Lender's Bagels in TV commercials, died yesterday following complications from a fall he suffered ten weeks ago.

His wife of nine years, Gillie, paid tribute to her husband, who has not been able to speak since having a stroke 13 years ago.

She said: 'He was courageous, strong and an example to everyone to show how one should go through life with a vision, ambition, a goal and with success.

'Although he lost his speech, he was able to make you understand him with his gestures and his whole body and his expressions,' she said.

'It was remarkable. He could bring joy into a room.'

Passionate: The former Lenders' chairman died from complications after suffering a fall ten weeks ago

Passionate: The former Lenders' chairman died from complications after suffering a fall ten weeks ago

In 1927 Lender's father, Harry Lender, immigrated to the U.S from Poland – where he had to leave his wife and two sons behind - and opened what would become Lender's Bagels in an 800-square-foot bakery in New Haven.

Two years later, he had his wife and two sons, Hyman and Sam, brought over from Poland to join him, according to a history of Lender's Bagels on the company's website.

At the time, bagels in America were sold mostly to Jewish families who enjoyed them with lox and cream cheese.

Murray Lender was born in 1930, and four years later Harry Lender bought a 1,200-square-foot bakery in New Haven as the business began to prosper.

The four brothers Hyman, Sam, Harry and a younger brother, Marvin, all went on to work for the family business with Murray serving as the company's chief executive and Marvin acting as president.

In 1955 the Lenders started selling bagels in packages to supermarkets and by 1960, two years after their father died, the Lenders started freezing their bagels so they could ship them outside of New Haven without worrying about them becoming stale – the first company to do so.

The Lenders sold the family business to Kraft Foods in 1984 but Murray remained on as the company spokesman, appearing in their commercials and on talk shows. Pinnacle Foods Group LLC took over Lender's Bagels in 2003.

Familiar face: Murray Lender was well known for starring in TV commercials of Lender's bagels

Familiar face: Murray Lender was well known for starring in TV commercials of Lender's bagels

Inspiration: Gillie, Murray's wife of nine years, praised him as 'courageous and strong'

Inspiration: Gillie, Murray's wife of nine years, praised him as 'courageous and strong'

As the company’s spokesman Lender dismissed criticism by some bagel connoisseurs that Lender's Bagels didn't taste brilliant.

'Taste is a very subjective matter,' he told the AP. 'It's clear and simple: We make 2 3/4 million bagels a day. Obviously an awful lot of people are happy with it.'

Murray Lender is credited with creating green bagels for St.Patrick's Day and Oval bagels for President Lydon B.Johnson to eat in the Oval office.

He is survived by his wife, children and grandchildren.


 

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