Bagel guru Murray Lender dies at age 81 in Fla.

Mar 22, 2012, 7:27 PM

Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – Murray Lender, who helped turn his father’s small Connecticut bakery into a national company credited for introducing bagels to many Americans, has died in Florida. He was 81.

Lender, perhaps best known from promoting Lender’s Bagels in TV commercials, died Wednesday at a hospital in Miami from complications from a fall he suffered at his home 10 weeks ago, his wife, Gillie Lender, told The Associated Press on Thursday. The couple, who were married more than nine years, lived in Aventura, Fla., and also kept a home in Connecticut.

“He was courageous, strong and an example to everyone to show how one should go through life with a vision, ambition, a goal and with success,” Gillie Lender said.

Lender’s father, Harry Lender, immigrated to the United States from Lublin, Poland, in 1927 and opened what would become Lender’s Bagels that year in an 800-square-foot bakery in New Haven. Two years later, he had his wife and two sons, Hymen and Samuel, brought over from Poland to join him, according to a history of Lender’s Bagels on the company’s website.

At the time, bagels in America were sold mostly to Jewish families who enjoyed them with lox and cream cheese.

Murray Lender was born in 1930, and four years later Harry Lender bought a 1,200-square-foot bakery in New Haven as the business prospered. Hymen, Samuel, Harry and a younger brother, Marvin, all went on to work for the family business. Murray would serve as the company’s chief executive and Marvin as president.

The Lenders say they were the first to begin selling bagels in packages to supermarkets in 1955. In 1960, two years after Harry Lender died, the Lenders say they started freezing their bagels so they could ship them outside of New Haven without worrying about them becoming stale _ the first company to do so. The frozen bagel would make its way to households across the country that had never had them.

The Lenders sold the family business to Kraft Foods in 1984. Pinnacle Foods Group LLC has owned Lender’s Bagels since 2003.

Murray Lender remained the company spokesman after the sale to Kraft, making commercials and appearing on talk shows.

“The frozen bagel is convenient, which is important to today’s on-the-go consumers,” Murray Lender told the AP in 1986.

Lender shrugged off criticism by some bagel connoisseurs that Lender’s Bagels didn’t taste so great.

“Taste is a very subjective matter,” he told the AP. “It’s clear and simple: We make 2 3/4 million bagels a day. Obviously an awful lot of people are happy with it.”

A passionate devotee of the frozen food concept, he was chairman of the National Frozen Food Association and pioneered the first National Frozen Food Month in March 1984, a promotional effort involving manufacturers across the industry.

A stroke 13 years ago left Murray Lender unable to talk, but that didn’t dim his enthusiasm for life, his wife said.

“Although he lost his speech, he was able to make you understand him with his gestures and his whole body and his expressions,” Gillie Lender said. “It was remarkable. He could bring joy into a room.”

His funeral is set for Saturday in Woodbridge, Conn.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

United States News

Rep. Juan Ciscomani (R-AZ) delivers remarks in the House Chamber during the third day of elections ...
Kevin Stone

Rep. Juan Ciscomani of Arizona to give GOP Spanish rebuttal to Biden speech

Freshman U.S. Rep. Juan Ciscomani of Arizona will deliver the Republican Spanish rebuttal to President Joe Biden's State of the Union address Tuesday.
13 hours ago
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)...
Associated Press

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s split from Democrats shows party discord in Arizona

The Democrats' winning formula is in jeopardy ahead of the 2024 election after Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s divorce from the party.
13 hours ago
(AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)...
Associated Press

US officials offer Congress briefing on Biden, Trump papers

The Biden administration has offered to brief congressional leaders on its investigation into the classified documents.
2 days ago
FILE - Mega Millions lottery tickets and a wager slip are displayed, Friday, Jan. 6, 2023, in Derry...
Arizona Sports

Drawing nears for $700M Powerball prize, 10th biggest in US

Another huge lottery jackpot will be on the line Saturday for players willing to put up $2 vs. daunting odds of actually winning the prize.
3 days ago
Chinese spy balloon flies above in Charlotte NC, United States on February 04, 2023. The Pentagon a...
Associated Press

US downs suspected Chinese spy balloon off the Carolina coast

The United States on Saturday downed a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the Carolina coast after it traversed sensitive military sites.
3 days ago
A high altitude balloon floats over Billings, Mont., on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023. The huge, high-alt...
Associated Press

Chinese balloon soars across US; Blinken scraps Beijing trip

A Chinese balloon sailing across the U.S. drew severe Pentagon accusations and sent excited or alarmed Americans outside with binoculars.
4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

(Pexels Photo)...

Sports gambling can be fun for adults, but it’s a dangerous game for children

While adults may find that sports gambling is a way to enhance the experience with more than just fandom on the line, it can be a dangerous proposition if children get involved in the activity.
...
Fiesta Bowl Foundation

Celebrate 50 years of Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade magic!

Since its first production in the early 1970s, the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe has been a staple of Valley traditions, bringing family fun and excitement to downtown Phoenix.
...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
Bagel guru Murray Lender dies at age 81 in Fla.