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~Old Bay -- Maryland's Staple in a Classic Yellow Can~

IMG_8102 2Newsflash -- There are two reasons to never consider trying to make Old Bay Seasoning at home.  The first:  You can't do it, you'll never get the proportions right, and, those of us who recognize the signature taste -- we'll hate you for yours.  The second: Old Bay Seasoning is a source of Marylander pride.  It's a staple -- it's found, right next to the salt and pepper shakers, on the tables in eateries everywhere.  If you wouldn't try pawning some off-the-rails homemade salt or pepper off on your guests (or customers), don't try it with Old Bay seasoning either.  Don't do it.

Old Bay -- Named after The Old Bay Line of passenger ships:

Card00578_frOld Bay Seasoning was named after the Old Bay Line, a passenger-ship line that steamed the waters of the Chesapeake Bay from Baltimore, Maryland, to Norfolk, Virginia in the early 1900's. Old Bay Seasoning, which is marketed in the United States by McCormick & Company, was created in Baltimore, Maryland.  It's a sophisticated blend of herbs and spices that include (as per the can): celery salt (a blend of salt and pulverized celery seed), dry mustard, red pepper, black pepper, Laurel bay leaves, allspice, ginger, mace, cardamom, cinnamon and paprika.

Old Bay -- Created in 1939 by a spice & seasoning wholesaler, Gustav Brunn, a Jewish-German immigrant to the USA:

Old Bay Seasoning is the creation of Gustav Brunn, a Jewish-German immigrant to the United States who started The Baltimore Spice Company in 1939.  The origins of his company began in Wertheim, Germany, where he started a wholesale spice and seasoning business, selling to the food industry during a time when spices were in short supply due to the hyperinflation in the aftermath of World War I. Due to rising antisemitism as the Nazi's rose to power, he moved his family, and his company to Frankfurt, Germany, where, on the night of November 10, 1938 (Kristalnacht), Brunn, was arrested and sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp.

Gustav's wife paid a large sum of money to a lawyer to get her husband released, and, because they had previously applied for and received American visas, they and their two children were able to escape to New York City, and later to Baltimore, Maryland, where Brunn had living relatives.  Having brought with him a small spice grinder, it was in Baltimore, in 1939 (just two days after being fired from his job at McCormick because his boss found out he was Jewish), where he began selling the "Delicious Brand Shrimp and Crab Seasoning", which was later renamed Old Bay Seasoning.  McCormick purchased the rights from the family in 1990.

Old Bay -- How do we love thee?  Let's count the many ways:

IMG_8118Marylanders have proudly taught us in the Mid-Atlantic States, Southern States, New England States and the Gulf Coast to use Old Bay Seasoning in or on almost anything we can think of.  To name many:  Blue Crabs.  Crab cakes.  Crab dip.  Crab salad.  Cream of crab soup.  Clam chowder.  Oyster stew.  Tomato soup.  Scallops.  Shrimp.  Shrimp salad.  Crawfish boil.  Seafood Batter mixes.  Tartar sauce.  Salad dressing.  Deviled eggs.  Chicken wings.  Fried Chicken. Maryland-style hot dogs.  Baked potatoes.  French fries.  Tater tots.  Potato salad.  Macaroni Salad.  Corn on the cob.  Steamed vegetables.  Popcorn.  Potato Chips.  Chex mix.  Bloody Mary's.  Essentially, there few foods Marylanders haven't put Old Bay Seasoning in or on.

Most recently, in 2020, McCormick created Old Bay Hot Sauce in advance of the Super Bowl.  It sold out within 30 minutes of its launch, causing the website to temporarily crash.  Some customers resold the 10-ounce bottles, which retailed for $3.49 for between $50 and $200.

Old Bay -- Don't try to fake it by making it 'cause you can't:

IMG_8108"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2020)


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