My grandfather Maurice Prager (1902–1992) said that in his boyhood in the city of Przasnysz, Poland, bagels were only made by private people for sale on the street, not by bakeries, which dealt in bread, nor by pastry shops. The food economy in that place and time was different from our own — far more of it was in the hands of non-professionals (though my grandfather knew something of the professional food industry because he was close to his uncle, a miller).
As he described them to me, the bagels consisted of thin double strands of dough braided in a circular spiral, and unlike the almost-holeless variety we see in New York today they had much more hole than bread. So far from being chewy or gummy, which define the range of consistency in New York today, these were extremely tough. They were made of white flour and did not have any other flavorings, neither seeds nor bulbs, and forget blueberries or chocolate.
My thought is that they must have had more in common with a traditional German soft pretzel (though boiled before baking rather than treated with lye) than with either the Montréal or New York bagel.
I was moved to write this by the visit of a friend bearing Montréal beygelach.