We Asked ChatGPT To Settle The Fairmount vs. St-Viateur Montreal Bagel Debate
It's a contentious issue, to be fair.
For decades, the Great Montreal Bagel Debate has stirred tepid interest among acquaintances at house parties who can't think of anything more interesting to discuss. But only recently has human civilization advanced enough to settle the contest between the city's two great bagel institutions, Fairmount and St-Viateur. Enter ChatGPT, a beta AI software dazzling the world with its parlour-trick-like ability to instantly produce elegant essays on any subject.
Without a soul, taste or feelings of loyalty — one might call it a disconcerting apathy toward the human condition — ChatGPT might be the first and only unbiased bagel arbiter.
When asked directly to argue for either bagel spot, ChatGPT is happy to oblige, providing specific details to support each respective institution. When arguing for St-Viateur, the software calls on the store's "more authentic flavor [sic]" and "traditional" preparation method, claiming that it yields an "unparalleled [chewy] texture."
Here's the full argument, straight from the bot's mouth:
"St Viateur bagels are undeniably better than Fairmount bagels for several reasons. Firstly, St Viateur bagels have a more authentic flavor that is true to traditional Montreal-style bagels. The secret to this flavor lies in their preparation method, which involves boiling the bagels in honey water before baking them in a wood-fired oven. This results in a crisp outer crust and a chewy inner texture that is simply unparalleled.
Furthermore, St Viateur bagels have a rich history that dates back to 1957, making them a staple in the Montreal community. This history has allowed them to perfect their craft and ensure that each bagel is of the highest quality.
In contrast, Fairmount bagels lack the same level of authenticity and are often too dense, making them less enjoyable to eat. Additionally, Fairmount bagels lack the same level of community involvement and history as St Viateur bagels, which is an important aspect when it comes to food.
In conclusion, when it comes to bagels, St Viateur is the clear winner. With its authentic flavor, rich history, and commitment to quality, St Viateur bagels are the epitome of a delicious and satisfying food experience."
You'll notice that ChatGPT is happy to rag on Fairmount, calling their bagels "too dense" and claiming the spot is lacking in "community involvement," whatever the fresh hell a computer even means by that.
We then asked it to argue that Fairmount bagels are better, which led to a confusingly similar argument. ChatGPT praised Fairmount's chewy texture this time and emphasized the store's community history — precisely the quality it claimed Fairmount was lacking in its previous essay.
Here's the full text:
"Fairmount bagels are undoubtedly the superior choice when it comes to Montreal-style bagels. Firstly, Fairmount bagels are known for their dense and chewy texture, which is achieved by boiling the bagels in malt syrup before baking them. This results in a flavor that is both rich and satisfying, making them a popular choice among bagel connoisseurs.
Furthermore, Fairmount bagels have a long history in the Montreal community, having been established in 1919. This history gives them a level of credibility and expertise that is unmatched by other bakeries. They have perfected their craft over the years, ensuring that each bagel is of the highest quality.
In contrast, St Viateur bagels lack the same level of authenticity and are often too crispy, making them less enjoyable to eat. Additionally, St Viateur bagels are not as widely known or respected as Fairmount bagels, which can impact their overall quality.
In conclusion, when it comes to bagels, Fairmount is the clear winner. With its rich flavor, long history, and commitment to quality, Fairmount bagels are the epitome of a delicious and satisfying food experience."
So, okay, we can get this AI to wax poetic about the advantages of either bagel shop, and it'll tear the other down without a second thought (or even a first thought. It's software.). But will it take its own stance?
In short, no.
We asked ChatGPT "which establishment does the overall documentation on the internet favour? Is there a greater volume of evidence or better arguments for one place?" Here, we hoped to tease out a concrete opinion. But ChatGPT was not playing our game.
"As a language model AI, I don't have personal opinions or emotions," it wrote, "but based on the internet data available, both St Viateur and Fairmount bagels are popular among bagel enthusiasts and each has its own passionate following. There is no clear winner in terms of the overall volume of evidence or better arguments on the internet, as both bakeries have their own strengths and appeal to different tastes and preferences."
Even the most inhuman debater with exactly zero stakes in this argument is unable to draw a conclusion about the winning bagel establishment, despite all of our best poking and prodding.
"It can be difficult to determine which establishment has the upper hand, as opinions on bagels are subjective and can vary greatly from person to person," ChatGPT continued. "Some may argue that St Viateur bagels have a more authentic flavor, while others may prefer the denser texture of Fairmount bagels. Ultimately, it comes down to personal taste and preference."
"Both St Viateur and Fairmount bagels have a rich history and have been serving the Montreal community for decades, making them both important parts of the city's food culture. It would be safe to say that both establishments have their own unique qualities and are loved by many," ChatGPT concluded.
It's reasonable, it's bland, it's predictable and it's unhelpful. But if you're looking for a legible, middling essay on the various merits of one store over the other, you'll find your golden goose in ChatGPT.
This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.
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