How we got started…

So besides the fact that REAL bagels are lacking in Shanghai, another reason that we started mass producing these babies is thanks to Steven Levitt, the author of Freakonomics, who writes about the reasons behind some rather interesting (and random) human behaviors and phenomena. One of the issues he explores in his book is cheating. He cites the example of Paul Feldman, an economist and bagel maker, to illustrate the fact that people are in fact more honest than most would believe. Basically, Paul Feldman delivered bagels to offices and asked people to pay by leaving money in these wooden boxes. He maintained detailed records of how much people paid versus number of bagels eaten and found that his average return rate was an astonishing 90%. You can read a detailed excerpt here.

Christine came to me with the idea of doing something like this in Shanghai. My first reaction was that this would never fly – and let’s be honest here, China is not exactly known for being morally upstanding (corrupt government officials and the incidents at the Olympic games come to mind amongst other things).  But she pointed out that there is potential with white collar workers, and expats in particular, who are generally better educated and command a higher salary.  So if anything, they are the ones who would pay – or would they? So when I finally came on board, the reason is more than just to sell bagels. I can actually see this turning into an interesting social experiment* that could once and for all prove whether people are inherently honest (and whether culture matters).

*Note: We haven’t started this project because we are still working out the details.  But if your company is interested in having bagels delivered to your office once a week, please email us at spreadthebagel@gmail.com and we will notify you when we launch it.

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