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5 Things You Didn't Know About Old Bay

Eva Niessner

5 Things You Didn't Know About Old Bay

It's obvious that Old Bay is one of the most delicious substances that we've ever been blessed with. And it's obvious that Old Bay is what makes crabs in all of their cooked forms (soup, steamed, cake, etc.) go from good to great. But there are a few facts about Old Bay that may not be so obvious! Here are a few factoids that you may not have realized.

1. Old Bay was created by a German immigrant

We owe Gustav Brunn a huge debt of gratitude -- he's the one who first came up with the unmistakable spice blend that we know and love. Brunn, a Jewish spice merchant, escaped from Nazi Germany with his family and settled in Baltimore. According to Savuer's article on Brunn and Old Bay, he developed his own special recipe for pre-mixed crab spice and worked to convince cooks to try it. Once they gave it a shot, they were hooked!

 

2. It's not just for seafood

We know no combination is more classic than Old Bay and crabs. But that doesn't mean this spice is limited -- far from it! If you've spent more than, oh, four hours in Maryland, you've had Old Bay potato chips, and probably corn sprinkled (or soaked) in Old Bay too. There are recipes that call for Old Bay for everything from edamame to guacamole to cheddar biscuits. Which one are you going to make first?

 

3. The recipe is seriously a secret!

The folks at McCormick, which bought Old Bay in 1990, may be the only people who truly know what goes into the blend. The can lists paprika, celery salt, and red and black pepper -- and that's about as much as we know for sure. While many, many people have tried to come up with copycat recipes, and some have come pretty darn close, the fact remains that Old Bay is a secret recipe. The best guesses include mace, mustard, cloves, and bay leaves. 

 

4. Old Bay keeps it old school

One thing we do know about the recipe is that it hasn't been altered or changed since Brunn first started selling it way back in the day. Variations are for sale, like lemon & herb and hot, but the classic Old Bay seasoning isn't changing anytime soon. (And who would want to change it! Not us.) They're just all about doing things the old-fashioned way -- in fact, they didn't release a TV commercial until 2014! 

 

5. Old Bay is becoming more popular than ever before

A Washington Post piece from a few years back showed that Old Bay sales were on the rise all over the country -- not just in Maryland! A series of Old Bay recipes were even featured on Buzzfeed, proving that folks all over are hungry for this spectacular spice. And we shouldn't keep this magical treat all to ourselves. There's room for everybody at this crab feast! 

 

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