Old Bay Seasoning

Old Bay Seasoning
Industry Food
Founded 1939, in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Headquarters Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Parent McCormick & Company, Maryland, U.S.
Website http://www.oldbay.com

Old Bay Seasoning is a blend of herbs and spices that is marketed in the United States by McCormick & Company, and produced in Maryland.

The seasoning mix includes celery salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, and paprika.[1] It is regionally popular, specifically in Maryland, the Mid-Atlantic States, the Southern States, and parts of New England and the Gulf Coast.[2]


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. Gustav Brunn’s company became the Old Bay Company in 1939, the year he fled Nazi Germany, producing crab seasonings in the unique yellow can container until the company was purchased by McCormick & Co in 1990.[3] McCormick continued to offer Old Bay in the classic yellow can.[4] According to Gustav Brunn, he had worked for McCormick for a week before starting his own spice business. He claimed that he was fired when McCormick learned that he was Jewish.[5]

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.[6]


The seasoning is chiefly used to season crab and shrimp. It is also used in various clam chowder and oyster stew recipes. The seasoning is also used as a topping on popcorn, salads, eggs, fried chicken, french fries, tater tots, corn on the cob, boiled peanuts, dips, chipped beef, baked potatoes, potato salad, and potato chips. Several movie theaters in the Chesapeake region 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 (however, Herr's uses the 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. Old Bay is also occasionally used around the Chesapeake Bay region as an ingredient in Bloody Marys,[5] and as far south as The Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida. Old Bay Seasoning is available at every Boardwalk Burgers and Fries restaurant.

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.[7]


  1. Ingraham, Christopher (2014-05-07). "They put Old Bay on everything in Maryland. Soon you will, too". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2016-03-08.
  2. "McCormick adds Old Bay products to its spice rack". The Baltimore Sun. 1990-11-01. Retrieved 2011-06-06.
  3. "McCormick buys locally invented Old Bay crab spice". The Baltimore Sun. 1990-11-01. Retrieved 2013-01-11.
  4. 1 2 "Baltimore Spice Co. doesn't have to work at promoting its famous Old Bay seasoning" (August 29, 1983) Frederick News Post, Frederick, MD, accessed 2013-07-27
  5. http://newcan.oldbay.com/
  6. "Dead Rise - Flying Dog BreweryFlying Dog Brewery". Flyingdogbrewery.com. 2014-06-20. Retrieved 2016-03-08.
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