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‘Wheel of Fortune’ contestant completely botches bagel-and-lox puzzle

A "Wheel of Fortune" contestant's bagel blunder shows America has a lox to learn about Jewish foods.
A "Wheel of Fortune" bagel blunder divides the internet on a Jewish deli staple.
A "Wheel of Fortune" bagel blunder divides the internet on a Jewish deli staple.YouTube

Game shows give home audiences the cathartic — though sometimes frustrating — opportunity to shout at their televisions, and last night's "Wheel of Fortune" was no exception, thanks to one stumped contestant.

On March 1, an episode of "Wheel of Fortune" aired featuring a contestant’s puzzle fail that caused utter shock on social media. The contestant, Angie Gautney, a woman from De Land, Florida, found herself in a bit of trouble when faced with solving an almost-completely-filled-in puzzle in the "Food & Drink" category.

After winning the first toss-up puzzle and $1,000, Gautney shared with host Pat Sajak that her dad used to trick her and her siblings by watching the game ahead of time on their satellite TV. But it was the puzzle — "WARM TOASTED BA_ELS WITH LO_ AND CREAM CHEESE" — that tricked her this time.

“Warm toasted bagels with low and cream cheese?” Gautney guessed.

“No,” Sajak firmly replied, moving on to contestant Nina Lance, who solved the puzzle with the correct guess, “Warm toasted bagels with lox and cream cheese,” winning the $1,000 minimum for the round.

“Yeah, that’s a much better recipe,” Sajak joked.

Lox, a staple of American Jewish cuisine, is a fillet of brined salmon and a popular bagel topping.

Responses erupted on social media, with many folks debating whether or not the puzzle was a gimme or not.

“Omg on wheel of fortune someone just guessed warm toasted bagels with LOW and cream cheese instead of lox that is so embarrassing I would never show my face again,” one person tweeted, later adding that they “feel like Florida has so many NY transplants” so “she should have known.”

“Someone saw this puzzle and said ‘Warm Toasted Bagels with Low and Cream Cheese,’” another person tweeted with a melting face emoji, to which someone else replied, “It literally killed me.”

“She said ‘low’ I’m not kidding. Oi vey,” said another user, appropriately employing the Yiddish phrase expressing exasperation.

“The absolute verbal abuse my mom and I screamed at this lady on wheel of fortune who didn’t know what lox was,” wrote another Twitter user in a harsh rebuke before switching to all-caps to say, “SHE GUESSED ‘LOW AND BAGELS.’ WHAT THE HELL IS ‘LOW’.”

But, on the other side of the bagel, there are those on social media who empathize with Gautney and had no idea what lox were.

“What the heck is a LOX?” commented one person on Instagram, to which another person incorrectly replied “fish eggs.”

“Learned what lox is today!” someone else tweeted, adding the hashtag #midwesterner.

“I didn’t realize lox was something people DIDN’T know,” wrote another person, this time on Facebook, to which another person replied, “Because you’re from NJ and it’s a staple here, especially in diners."

“Google about to get a whole lot of traffic searching what in the hell type of food ‘lox’ is,” another person tweeted with an eye-roll emoji, clearly frustrated.

Just in case you, dear reader, are unfamiliar with the pure culinary magic that lox holds with a bit of cream cheese on a toasted bagel, we've got you covered. The bagel-and-lox combo is commonly associated with New York City, where it was likely first assembled sometime in the early 20th century by Jewish immigrants.

This was all explored by TODAY anchor and weatherman Al Roker when he visited iconic Jewish deli Russ & Daughters on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in 2021.

For those looking to try the treat for themselves, there are many, many Jewish delis across the country — including the Midwest — as well as lox (or at least smoked salmon) in many grocery stores.

Gautney ended up in third place, winning $7,300 in cash and prizes, some of which can take her to DeLand Bagels, which serves the menu item in her own backyard, if she wants to give it a try.