A fragel ("FRAY-gul") is a a bagel that, instead of being baked, is deep-fried in light oil and then rolled in sugar and cinnamon.
They are soft and sweet and densely chewy. They taste like a cross between a bagel and a doughnut, and have far more calories than the former but are healthier than the latter. They are probably at least as fattening as boardwalk fries, and they are deeply yummy.
As far as I know fragels are solely a regional Michigan delicacy. I first encountered fragels when I was in East Lansing, MI for the Clarion workshop. East Lansing is evidently an enormous market for all manner of exotic bagels due to the huge college student population. One of the Clarionites, a native Michiganer, came in one morning with a big brown paper grocery bag mottled with telltale grease spots. A delicious aroma filled the room the moment he opened the bag. He passed the fresh-fried goodness around the room, and five pounds of fragels disappeared in about as many minutes.
I have searched the Midwest for bagel shops that offer fragels, but I have been met with nothing but blank looks when I've asked about them. I'm amazed no one else makes them -- it's surely not out of bagel purism, because real water bagels are not what most bagel joints offer.
If you visit Michigan, your best bet for finding fragels is to seek out a regional chain called Bagel Fragel that has locations in Lansing/East Lansing and Ann Arbor.
Estimated Nutritional Information for 4" Fragel*
* Based on estimates of 6 grams of granulated sugar and 1.5 teaspoons of absorbed oil in addition to average bagel composition from the USDA Nutrient Database athttp://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/cgi-bin/nut_search.pl. If any of you e2 cooks have other ideas on how much oil a bagel might absorb in light deep-frying, let me know and I'll revise my estimates.