The Secret Ingredient in Bagels and Pizza

New York City is famous for its bagels and pizza; many people attribute their deliciousness to its unique water supply. But is there any truth to this claim?

Here is the science behind New York’s water and its impact on the taste and texture of bagels and pizza.

New York City’s Water System

New York City’s water system is one of the most extensive in the world, providing drinking water to over 8 million residents. The system begins in the Catskill Mountains, where water is collected in reservoirs and transported through aqueducts to the city. The water is treated to make it safe for drinking and is known for its high quality and purity.

The Role of Minerals in Water

The minerals present in water can impact the taste and texture of food. Calcium and magnesium are minerals commonly found in water and can affect how dough and bread rise and bake. Calcium ions in water can help to activate the gluten and improve elasticity, while magnesium ions can have the opposite effect and make the dough less elastic.

The Science Behind Bagels

Bagels are bread that is boiled before being baked, giving them a chewy texture and slightly shiny crust. The high mineral content in New York’s water may help create bagels’ chewy texture. Calcium ions in the water can help to activate the gluten and improve elasticity, which gives the dough the ability to hold its shape when boiled.

The Science Behind Pizza

Pizza dough is made from flour, water, yeast, and salt. The dough is then stretched or rolled out and topped with sauce, cheese, and other ingredients before being baked at a high temperature. The minerals in New York’s water can impact the texture of the pizza crust. The high calcium content in the water can help create a crispy crust, while the magnesium ions can make the dough less elastic and produce a chewy texture.

The Debate Over the Water’s Impact

While many people believe that New York’s water is the secret to the city’s delicious bagels and pizza, there is some debate over the extent of its impact. Some experts argue that the minerals in the water are not significant enough to have a noticeable effect on the taste and texture of these foods.

Other Factors Affecting the Taste and Texture of Bagels and Pizza

Besides the water, many other factors can impact the taste and texture of bagels and pizza. For example, the type of flour used, the temperature of the oven, and the length of time the dough is allowed to ferment can all affect the final product.


While the minerals in New York’s water may play a role in the taste and texture of bagels and pizza, they are not the only factor that makes these foods so delicious. The quality of the ingredients, the skill of the baker or chef, and the cooking method all play a vital role in creating these iconic New York City foods. So the next time you enjoy a bagel or a slice of pizza in the city, remember that the combination of all these factors makes them so delicious, not just the water.

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