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/ Source: TODAY
By Aly Walansky

Though there are a lot of ways to enjoy bagels, there has been one conventionally accepted way to slice them ... until now.

Enter the good people of St. Louis who, apparently, don't really know how to eat bagels.

On Wednesday, Twitter user @AlekKrautmann sparked a fiery debate when he shared a photo of two boxes of bagels from Panera Bread that had been pre-sliced, not horizontally, but vertically ... like tiny loaves of bread. Sad, sad bread.

"Today I introduced my coworkers to the St Louis secret of ordering bagels bread sliced," he posted. "It was a hit!"

But it was most certainly not a hit across social media as thousands of people have since weighed in and many are very, very upset.

While the picture may have sparked ire among bagel lovers everywhere, apparently it really is a thing to mutilate bagels if you're from The Gateway to the West.

"Slicing bagels like bread is a well-known secret in St. Louis," Sara Burnett, Panera's director of wellness, told TODAY Food. Burnett has lived in the St. Louis area (where Panera Bread is headquartered) for 15 years. She said that customers anywhere in the country can order their bagels sliced "St.Louis style" (no thanks) and added that it's a great way to try different bagel-and-cream cheese combinations in one sitting.

OK, that's fair.

But not everyone in St. Louis is a fan of bread-slicing bagels. George Mahe, the dining editor at St. Louis Magazine, refers to this method of slicing a bagel as an "atrocity."

"Vertical slicing is a relatively new phenom, to the best of my knowledge, seemingly popularized by the folks at Panera," Mahe told TODAY via email. "We see a lot of bagels in our office and none are sliced that way. But, I must admit, people do tend to hack away at them, leaving only shards and scraps for the latecomers, so ... I see the genesis of all this."

Though not a fan, Mahe admitted that this phenomenon may have rather innocent roots.

"Rumor has it that some time ago, a local mom requested a bagel sliced that way to make it easier for her child to eat," said Mahe. Admittedly, slicing the bagels into a chip-like shape would certainly make it easier for a little hand to grab.

According to St. Louis resident Sarah Osborn Blue, who is now a pastry chef at Niche Food Group, slicing bagels like bread should really be examined as a totally different way of enjoying the bagel since it's meant to be dipped, and not slathered, in cream cheese. Growing up, she said, it was very common to see bagels sliced like bread in her hometown.

However, she warned, this should never be done with a toasted bagel. “I have no idea of a person [who] started this trend but, honestly, I think it might be one of the original St. Louis Bread Co. [which is now Panera] staff. I just know at 32, I have known that at Bread Co. you order your bagel bread sliced. It's just what you do,” said Blue.

Though Burnett wouldn't confirm whether a Panera employee had started the slicing trend years ago, the company is having a field day with the attention:

Whether these bread-sliced bagels are a novel St. Louis tradition or not, Twitter (and pretty much everyone in America who doesn't live in Missouri) is not happy about this "secret" revelation:

First, cinnamon raisin bagels with lox and now this. What's next in the war on bagels?