|Founded||1939, in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.|
|Headquarters||Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.|
|Parent||McCormick & Company, Maryland, U.S.|
The seasoning is a mix of celery salt (salt, celery seed), spices (including red pepper and black pepper) and paprika. Some of the other spices that may be used are laurel leaves, mustard, cardamom, cloves and ginger as listed in the original product in the Baltimore Museum of Industry. It is regionally popular, specifically in Maryland, as well as in the Mid-Atlantic States, the Southern States, parts of New England and the Gulf Coast.
Old Bay Seasoning is named after the Old Bay Line, a passenger ship line that plied the waters of the Chesapeake Bay from Baltimore to Norfolk, Virginia, in the early 1900s. In 1939, a Jewish-German immigrant named Gustav Brunn started the Baltimore Spice Company.
The origins of the company began in Wertheim, Germany, where Brunn started a wholesale spice and seasoning business selling to food industries, seeing an opportunity as spices were in especially short supply amidst hyperinflation in the aftermath of World War I. Due to rising antisemitism as the Nazi Party rose to power, the company moved to Frankfurt, Germany; however, on the night of November 9, 1938, a massive pogrom against Jews, known as Kristallnacht, led to Brunn being arrested by Nazi soldiers and sent to Buchenwald concentration camp.
According to Brunn's son, Gustav's wife paid a large sum of money to a lawyer for him to be released and as they had already applied for and received American visas, were able to escape with their two children to New York City and later Baltimore, Maryland, where Brunn had family. There, having brought with him only a small spice grinder, Brunn founded the Baltimore Spice Company and produced the "Delicious Brand Shrimp and Crab Seasoning", which was later renamed Old Bay.
McCormick has a number of other products under the Old Bay banner, including seasoning packets for crab cakes, salmon patties and tuna, tartar sauce, cocktail sauce and seafood batter mix. They also make other seasoning blends that mix Old Bay seasoning with garlic, lemon, brown sugar, herbs and blackened seasonings. McCormick has offered a lower-sodium version of Old Bay Seasoning.
In 2017, McCormick changed the packaging from metal cans to plastic containers in an effort to reduce the packaging costs.
The seasoning is chiefly used to season crab and shrimp. It is used in various clam chowder and oyster stew recipes. The seasoning is also used as a topping on popcorn, salads, eggs, fried chicken, chicken wings, french fries, tater tots, corn on the cob, boiled peanuts, dips, chipped beef, baked potatoes, potato salad, potato chips and guacamole. Several movie theaters in the Chesapeake region offer it in the condiment section.
Potato chip manufacturer Utz created the original "Crab Chip" based on a similar mix of spices. The popular potato chip variety was later copied and marketed by Herr's Snacks (however, Herr's uses Old Bay seasoning and it is sold as "Herr's Old Bay Chips"). Lay's introduced its own Old Bay-seasoned "Chesapeake Bay Crab Spice" flavored chips in 2018.
Early in its history, the Subway sandwich shop used Old Bay when mixing their seafood and crab salad. Many local Subway shops still have Old Bay for use on sandwiches. Convenience store chain Sheetz also offers Old Bay as an option in its delis due to their large presence in the Mid-Atlantic region, including areas beyond Old Bay's traditional territory.
Old Bay is also occasionally used around the Chesapeake Bay region as an ingredient in Bloody Marys, and even in places as far south as The Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida. Some bars in the Baltimore region also often sell what is known as a 'Crabby Bo', which is National Bohemian beer where the lip of the glass or mug that is being used is moistened and dipped into a container of Old Bay seasoning. In 2014, the Maryland-based brewery Flying Dog created an Old Bay-inspired summer ale named Dead Rise to celebrate the seasoning's 75th anniversary.
In 2020, McCormick created Old Bay Hot Sauce in advance of the Super Bowl, which initially sold out within 30 minutes of its launch and caused the Old Bay website to temporarily crash. Some customers resold the 10-US-fluid-ounce (300 ml) bottles, retailing for $3.49, online for between $50 to $200. In 2022, the company collaborated with Pepperidge Farm to produce Old Bay-flavored Goldfish crackers. The crackers sold out online within nine hours.
In June 2021, Old Bay worked with the True Temper Sports company and released a lacrosse stick with an Old Bay decal, both in the standard short and defensive long lengths. Both sticks are currently sold out online.
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- Patrickis, Caroline (July 19, 2018). "Lay's to release 8 regional chip flavors, including one from DMV". WJLA-TV. Washington, DC. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
- "Calories in Sheetz Old Bay Seasoning - Nutritional Information and Diet Info". www.fitbit.com.
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- "Dead Rise Old Bay Gose". Flying Dog Brewery. Retrieved April 10, 2020.
- Heil, Emily (February 3, 2020). "We tried the sold-out Old Bay hot sauce, and it lived up to the hype". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 6, 2020.
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- Streicher, Sean (January 30, 2020). "Sold-Out Old Bay Hot Sauce Was Project 5 Years In The Making, McCormick Says". CBS Baltimore. Retrieved July 6, 2020.
- "LacrosseMonkey: New True Old Bay Lacrosse Attack & Defense Shafts". Milled. Retrieved August 2, 2022.
- "TRUE Temper Comp 4.0 Old Bay Composite Attack Lacrosse Shaft". SportStop.com. Retrieved August 2, 2022.
- "TRUE Composite SF 4.0 Old Bay LE Defense Lacrosse Shaft". www.lacrossemonkey.com. Retrieved August 2, 2022.