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Joy Bauer went to the ER on Mother’s Day for a bagel injury. Here’s how to safely slice one

Brunching can be a dangerous sport without the proper knife technique.
Joy Bauer bagel injury
Bagel slicing injuries are a lot more common than you might think.Getty Images, Joy Bauer
/ Source: TODAY

Slicing bagels is dangerous business, just ask TODAY’s nutrition expert Joy Bauer.

Joy shared a cautionary tale with her Instagram followers this week, as she sliced off the top of her pinky finger while prepping Mother’s Day brunch for around 20 family members.

“It was awful,” she said of the incident. “Well, it wasn’t completely sliced off but it was totally hanging. And it was all my fault because I was rushing like crazy to try to finish before everyone arrived.”

The nutritionist and mother of three ended up taking a trip to the White Plains Hospital emergency room, where she said doctors were able to successfully sew her digit back together.

According to data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, hundreds of Americans go to the hospital each year with bagel-slicing-related injuries. (The Wall Street Journal put that number closer to 2,000 in 2009.) And Joy says she got “thousands and thousands” of DMs from people who saw her video and shared their own similar experiences.

So, to hopefully curb the number of injuries this year and beyond, spoke with Adam Goldberg, founder and CEO of PopUp Bagels, to see how he recommends (safely) slicing up your breakfast.

“Always be sure to slice away from your fingers,” Goldberg says. “Flat-palm the bagel to the cutting board and, with fingers raised, slice about a half inch into the bagel with a serrated bread knife.”

Then, he says, leaving the knife in place, pick up the bagel and place it on its side using your fingers to steady it, pinching what are becoming the top and bottom halves. Finally, continue the slice down to the board.

Goldberg prefers to cut bagels on a large, solid wood cutting board that won’t need any outside stabilizers. But if yours is slipping around, you can wet and then wring out a paper towel and lay it underneath, between the cutting board and counter or table.

“I learned that trick cooking at Picholine 20 years ago!” he says when asked about the hack. Goldberg says he spent a month in 2001 as an apprentice to the head chef at the now-shuttered New York City restaurant.

The late Dr. Marshall T. Morgan, former chief of emergency medicine at UCLA, told the the Los Angeles Times in 1995 that bagel-slicing injuries were common but often not very serious. He said a poor grip is usually the culprit, and that the key to success is cutting away from — rather than toward — yourself.

Luckily for Goldberg, he hasn’t learned this trick from bloodying bagels himself.

“Fortunately no bad cuts!” Goldberg says. “But lots of close calls. As an avid oyster-shucker, I’ve learned a few things about errant knives.”

Goldberg’s bagels are sold whole with schmear on the side. There are no sandwiches at PopUp, so if you want your bagel sliced, you have to bring it home and do it yourself.

But, according to the founder, bagels are best eaten without putting yourself in harms way. For him, it’s the rip-and-dip method every time — “no knives needed.”