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Old Bay Seasoning's distinctive yellow can.
Old Bay Seasoning is a blend of herbs and spices that is currently marketed in the United Statesmarker by McCormick & Company, and produced in Marylandmarker. It is produced in the Chesapeake Bay area where it was developed by German immigrant Gustav Brunn in the 1940s, and where the seasoning is very popular to this day. At that time, crabs were so plentiful that bars in Baltimore, Marylandmarker, offered them free and seasonings like Old Bay were created to encourage patrons to purchase more beverages. Old Bay is just one of many crab seasonings created during that era, yet is one of a few that survived. Notable others are J.O. Spice and Baltimore Spice. McCormick recently has offered a lower salt version of Old Bay Seasoning.

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, Virginiamarker, in the early 1900s. Gustav Brunn’s company became the Old Bay Company, producing crab seasonings in the unique yellow can container until the company was purchased by McCormick & Co around 1990. McCormick continues to offer Old Bay in the classic yellow can.

The seasoning mix includes mustard and paprika and (unconfirmed) celery seed, bay leaf, , both black and red pepper, cinnamon, and ginger. It is regionally popular, specifically in Southern States and parts of the Gulf Coast. It serves to season crab and shrimp.

In addition to flavoring seafood, the seasoning is often used as a topping on popcorn, salads, eggs, fried chicken, french fries, tater tots, corn on the cob, and potato chips. Several movie theaters in the Chesapeake region actually offer it in the condiment section. Potato chip manufacturer Utz created the original "Crab Chip" based on an analogue spice mix. The popular potato chip variety was later copied and marketed by Herr’s. Early in its history, the Subway sandwich shop used to use Old Bay when mixing their seafood and crab salad. Many local Subway shops in the Baltimore region still have Old Bay for use on sandwiches. Old Bay is also occasionally used around the Chesapeake Bay region as an ingredient in Bloody Marys.

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, herbs and blackened seasonings.


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