Cynthia Nixon, the candidate challenging incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo for the Democratic nomination in Thursday’s primary race, recently planned a campaign stop at Zabar’s, the Jewish holy site, so that she might have the appropriate backdrop as she fired back at the New York State Democratic Committee’s recent insinuations of her supposed anti-Semitism. Here is what she ordered during this highly coordinated event: a cinnamon raisin bagel with lox, red onions, capers, tomatoes, and plain cream cheese. According to Gothamist, which reported this story and has the video footage of Nixon making this request to prove it, this is a disgusting and borderline disqualifying-one-from-ever-holding-office thing to eat.
It does sound a little weird. But Cynthia Nixon supports abolishing ICE and legalizing marijuana, and she’s also actually ridden the New York City subway, unlike another gubernatorial candidate. Logic would dictate that there must be more to her initially atrocious-sounding bagel order than first appears. Here, a few theories to explain the next-level, three-steps-ahead-of-the-game stratagem that is Bagel-gate:
1. Actually, this is a good order. Who knows New York City better than lifelong New Yorker Cynthia Nixon, who co-starred with it—yes, the city was a character too!—on a little show called Sex and the City? (Honestly, it’s one of the city’s best roles.) Goddamn no one. She made Broadway history when she starred in two shows at the same time! As NYC royalty, Cynthia Nixon can have any bagel she wants, and yet she chooses to order this bagel. Which says that maybe it’s not so “hardest possible pass” after all, and perhaps lesser New Yorkers could learn something by having a more open mind about the combo.
2. Nixon is subtly positioning herself as a maverick who supports women’s choices. Maybe Nixon feels the need to speak up for all the people who want to break the mold with their bagel orders but feel too meek to do so. She’s a freethinker, unbeholden to special interests and bagel-counter orthodoxy. As her spokeswoman tweeted, Nixon is willing to voice opinions that “are out of the mainstream or even unpopular.” A bagel order is admittedly a strange venue for illustrating this point, but perhaps there’s a lesson there too, in that we should not question Nixon’s selection: her bagel, her choice.
3. On the other hand, maybe this bagel proves that Nixon really is an anti-Semite. Nixon was supposed to be at Zabar’s to talk about how anti-Semitic she isn’t, but come on, her order was too disrespectful to accomplish that and in fact constitutes an act of aggression against all Jews, the people of the bagel. And on the day of Rosh Hashana of all days!
4. This was intended as a viral moment to boost Nixon’s name recognition. Nixon’s numbers don’t look good leading into Thursday. Is it because not enough people outside of New York City know her? What could solve that faster and more effectively than a little viral bagel gold???
5. This was a stress order. Ordering food at counters is not always the most intuitive experience. It’s often unclear where or if there’s a line or multiple lines, whom you have to talk to for what, etc. It’s horrible, and for some people, very anxiety-provoking even when they’re not being filmed and watched because they’re running for higher office. If you watch the video of Nixon’s Zabar’s visit, you’ll see that the employee she’s speaking to at the fish and toppings counter instructs her to stay in place while he walks over to a completely different counter to get a bagel, so she doesn’t have to wait in two lines. This is nice of him, but when I’m in a retail establishment and an employee says to wait while he’s going to disappear for a while, I start to freak out a little. Nixon asks, because she gets this whole media game and knows it’s better for the camera to capture the Zabar’s guy in action rather than just her twiddling her thumbs, if she can go with him. This is smart, but changing locations is stressful (and wasn’t in the script!) and disorienting, as is the process of trying to be charming while being captured ordering food and standing around while that food is prepared in public. It’s completely possible that Nixon was internally losing it a little due to panic and flubbed her order. She knew she liked cinnamon raisin because it’s the most muffinlike bagel, and someone told her she had to get lox so she wanted to get the lox, and shit shit shit her mind is blanking, the only word she can access right now is … capers.
6. Eh, politicians have eaten much weirder. This order is a little weird, maybe, but it’s not unheard-of weird. The man behind the Zabar’s counter does not seem at all thrown by it, for one thing, which doesn’t necessarily mean anything but perhaps suggests it’s not that unusual. Is this order really weird enough to make a stink over? While we’re freaking out about Cynthia Nixon’s bagel choice, let’s consider the fact that there was once a president who reportedly enjoyed eating the absolutely wretched-sounding breakfast of cottage cheese with ketchup. His name was also Nixon—Richard Nixon—and we voted him into office twice.