Having lived and visited many different places and eaten bagels in all of them, I have to say that NYC bagels are the best. Maybe it's the water, I dunno, but nowhere else gets quite that taste. When I lived in Bucks County, PA, I used to go to a place called Irv's Bagels in Langhorne. I remember seeing what BaahBen called a trunion kettle in the back with bagels boiling until they floated. He (Irv?) would turn them with a paddle that looked like a pizza peel. And they were very good, but nowhere near the ones I remember eating with my folks on trips to the 2nd Avenue Deli. Even now, I go to a place called Bagel Central in Bangor, Maine and they have great bagels (and pretty amazing Jewish pastries, like I remember my grandmother's tasting), but their bagels are lighter, airier. The don't have that rich, dense chewiness that I remember the NY bagels having. Why is that, I wonder?
PS I'm with the other purists on the fruity, chocolatey bagels. To me, that's just wrong. But I know some really enjoy them (including my kids).