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What Is Old Bay Seasoning?

Know Your Ingredients: Old Bay Seasoning

If you love shore food like I do, then chances are, you're familiar with Old Bay seasoning. But what exactly is it, and how did it attain the cult status that it has today?

Old Bay Seasoning is a proprietary spice mix that's become a seafood staple. The blend, which was named after the Chesapeake Bay, was first created in the 1940s by a Baltimore spice merchant, and soon became a popular accoutrement among East Coasters for steamed, hard shell crabs. In the 1990s, spice company McCormick purchased the brand, preserving its distinctive yellow box and logo, but bringing Old Bay to supermarket spice aisles across America.

The recipe of the mix is a closely-guarded secret, but there have been many attempts to recreate the exact blend of cinnamon, ginger, mustard, bay leaves, celery seed, laurel, and black and red pepper. Old Bay is often used in fish and shellfish dishes, corn on the cob, and French fries — although modern-day recipes call for the seasoning in everything from eggs to stir-fries. How do you use Old Bay?

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