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Guang bing Chinese bagel. Source: Kenishirotie / Adobe Stock.

How a 500-Year-Old Chinese ‘Bagel’ Helped Win a War (Video)


Today bagels are a staple snack for many of us, but did you know that hundreds of years ago a Chinese variation helped win a war? This remarkable creation, known as the guang-bing, holds the key to an astounding victory that altered the course of warfare in 16th-century China. Amid the backdrop of an arduous struggle against marauding Japanese pirates, a resourceful innovation took shape. The guang-bing, round and crisp, harbors a secret that shifted the tides of battle. The year was 1563, and General Qi's forces found themselves ensnared by the stealth of the pirates. The revelation that the campfires used for cooking divulged their positions prompted an ingenious solution. Enter the guang-bing, a bread that could be baked in subterranean ovens, its presence hidden from prying eyes.

The distinctive perforation in the middle served a dual purpose. Not only did it allow the soldiers to string the bread around their necks, creating a portable sustenance, but it also prevented their movements from being hampered during surprise attacks. This edible innovation not only fueled the troops but also became a symbol of resilience against adversity. Today, the legacy of guang-bing endures, thanks to the skilled hands of local bakers who preserve the traditional methods. From the heart of the clay oven to the hands of those who savor its taste, guang-bing remains a cherished memento of the past.

Top image: Guang bing Chinese bagel. Source: Kenishirotie / Adobe Stock.

By Robbie Mitchell

Robbie Mitchell's picture


I’m a graduate of History and Literature from The University of Manchester in England and a total history geek. Since a young age, I’ve been obsessed with history. The weirder the better. I spend my days working as a freelance... Read More

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