Old Bay Seasoning is a long-time Maryland favorite. It’s placed next to salt and pepper in many restaurants, and Maryland locals will sprinkle it on just about anything. Most famously, it’s used with crabs and seafood. Not many people know where Old Bay came from, despite its popularity. In fact, its ingredients aren’t even publicized. There’s a surprising mystery surrounding this zesty spice, and we’re going to let you in on some of its secrets.
In the Chesapeake Bay, a man named Gustav Brunn created Old Bay. It was 1939. He was a German immigrant, Jewish, and lived a typical bayside life. The original name was “Delicious Brand Shrimp and Crab Seasoning”, which doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, so he rethought that. He named it after a passenger ship, the Old Bay Line, which transported people from Baltimore all the way to New York. The man absolutely refused to leave his spice grinder behind when he traveled from Germany, and aren’t we glad he did! While Brunn had his own company for a short while, McCormick & Co. bought him out. They kept his classic yellow tin, thankfully, which remains a part of Old Bay’s presentation to this day.
While most people associate the spice with crabs, it’s used for a variety of foods and always has been. Its usage is widespread, actually. All around the Bay area, Old Bay can be found in Subway restaurants, among other popular chains. It’s used in chowders and soups of all kinds. Marylanders specifically like it for crunchy snacks, like popcorn. In fact, UTZ created a chip coated in Old Bay, affectionately called the Crab Chip. There’s even a vodka that’s Old Bay infused: The Bay Vodka is produced in Pennsylvania, but its creator is well-versed in the world of Old Bay.
With such a strong history, it’s easy to see how this delicious spice is still so famous to this day. Truly, it pairs perfectly with crabs, and keeps you drinking cold beer. Its versatility is what keeps it in such high productions–we have McCormick to thank for keeping this spice in circulation, in that classic yellow tin.
Up for enjoying some Maryland crabs? Costas Inn is the place to go.
Costas Inn has been a family owned and operated restaurant for over 40 years. We were recently voted the 2015 #1 Baltimore Seafood Restaurant by USA Today. You may have spotted Costas Inn during one of our 9 appearances on the Today Show or heard one of our many interviews on WJZ TV Channel 13 with Ron Matz and Marty Bass. We were also voted #1 Crab Restaurant 2014 in the Baltimore Business Journal! You can enjoy our famous crab cakes in-house or order them online for anytime eating. We also provide some of the best seafood catering in the Baltimore area! You can also get your fill from Costas even when you’re not in our dining room: follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and YouTube!