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Where has all the Old Bay gone?

Karl S Sep 16, 2007 01:58 PM

I am struck by a curious coincidence: Old Bay no longer appears to be sold in Boston area markets. I've searched in vain in several Stop & Shops, Shaws, Market Baskets, Whole Foods, Wild Oats, et cet. in the past month and come up dry. Roche Bros. had an empty place for it on its shelves - that was the closest I've come. What gives? Has anyone purchased it recently in the Boston area (preferably north of Boston, as I live in Melrose)?

  1. threedogs Sep 26, 2007 03:16 AM

    Just found a stack of Old Bay at Price Rite on the Lynnway yesterday - $2.49 each.

    1. r
      rosiebcook Sep 20, 2007 10:20 AM


      When I couldn't find Old Bay with the herbs and spices, a Stop & Shop employee suggested I look in the fish department. There it was! Good luck.

      1. Karl S Sep 17, 2007 12:50 PM

        Thanks to the tip from a couple of observant hounds, I found it at my local crappy Shaw's in Melrose on the bottom shelf of a small floor case opposite the fish counter. I would never have thought to look there - I've always purchased it in the past in the spice section.

        But the formulation of Old Bay has changed. It's 40% lower in sodium now, and the ingredients list is more general.

        OLD Old Bay: Celery Salt and Spices (including Mustard, Red Pepper, Black Pepper, Bay Leaves, Cloves, Allspice, Ginger, Mace, Cardamom, Cinnamon and Paprika).

        NEW Old Bay: Spices and Herbs (including Red and Black Pepper), Salt and Paprika.

        10 Replies
        1. re: Karl S
          Gio Sep 19, 2007 08:32 AM

          I hate that Shaw's....opps,sorry, typing out loud. It seems to me that with a bit of experimentation one could mix one's own version of Old Bay. I have never bought it, but have combined almost all those ingredients at one time or another.

          1. re: Gio
            macca Sep 19, 2007 08:37 AM

            Agreed about that Shaws. Hardly ever go there anymore- am much more likely to go to Johnnies. I think they encourage their cashiers to chat with one another. Drives me crazy!! Plus that, the deli is horrible, they do not cut any meat there, so what you see is what you get. Don't even get me started on the produce ( which is why I go to Wilson Farms), and the stupid points drive me nuts, too. But, to keep on topic- it is good to know the Old Bay has been moved, in case I do make a run in there- and usuallyy I am in there for either cat food or milk.

            1. re: macca
              Gio Sep 19, 2007 08:40 AM

              Just sneaking in here to say we *love* Wilson Farms.

              1. re: Gio
                macca Sep 19, 2007 09:11 AM

                Was there this weekend, and the corn is still wonderful. I thnk it must have been picked Saturday am- so tasty. Still no sign of butternut squash. Can't wait for that.

            2. re: Gio
              Karl S Sep 19, 2007 10:09 AM

              Yes, one could possibly, and Penzey's has it's own version, but Old Bay is tried and true and why bother if I can get it?

              1. re: Karl S
                litchick Sep 19, 2007 10:55 AM

                Speaking from experience: I *heart* Penzey's bigtime, but their Chesapeake Bay Seasoning is NOT a good sub for Old Bay. Sure, it's the same exact idea, and likely a lot of the same ingredients, but it just does not measure up. It just tastes... off. I tried this for a while, but I went back to Old Bay. Which I put on everything.

                1. re: litchick
                  Karl S Sep 19, 2007 11:33 AM

                  Exactly. The key with Old Bay is how it balances celery, pepper and clove. Clove is hard to balance because it tends to resist balancing. Old Bay has some but not all of the clove-y notes - don't know if it's how McCormick buys it or ages/stales it...!

              2. re: Gio
                BostonZest Sep 21, 2007 01:45 PM

                That seems to be the official name of the store in the Back Bay. You see a neighboro with a bag from there and one of you will say shopping at "I Hate Shaws?"

                But, at least they had Old Bay for those seeking it.

              3. re: Karl S
                maillard Sep 19, 2007 08:37 AM

                Yup, apparently Old Bay lives near fish now. That's where I found it at the Somerville Stop & Shop. They had both the original Old Bay and the new Old Bay (New Bay?), so of course I bought both. My New Bay says 30% lower in sodium, though, not 40.

                1. re: maillard
                  Karl S Sep 19, 2007 10:08 AM

                  It's 40% in sheer milligrams terms, but when converted into the % of RDA, the rounding screws it down, as it were...

              4. l
                LeoLioness Sep 17, 2007 07:24 AM

                I bought it at the Shaws in Porter Square (Cambridge) last week.

                1 Reply
                1. re: LeoLioness
                  thekidd Sep 17, 2007 08:22 AM

                  old bay is primarily known as a spice blend to season fish (from what i was told). i just bought some two weeks ago at S&S on morrissey blvd. it's by the fish counter, as part of its own individual display.

                2. Gio Sep 17, 2007 06:40 AM

                  There was quite a lot of it Russo's a couple of weeks ago.

                  1. k
                    kbw18 Sep 17, 2007 06:36 AM

                    The Boston Shaw's moved all of the Old Bay to a slightly out-of-the-way display next to the fish counter. Could it have been similarly moved in other stores? I'd expect it to be in the spice section and was initially thrown for a loop last time I needed to buy it, but I think that maybe that's why I'm not a food marketer. If I were, the location would have made sense to me instantly.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: kbw18
                      Karl S Sep 17, 2007 07:09 AM

                      ahh, grasshoppah, I hope you ah correct...

                      1. re: kbw18
                        foodperv Sep 17, 2007 10:54 AM

                        every store i have ever purchased it at has always had it near the fish dept not with the reg spices

                      2. sailormouth Sep 16, 2007 09:18 PM

                        Just to commiserate, there's always a big display of it when I have plenty at home, but mysteriously disappears just when I need some more. Malt vinegar, Canadian bacon and haricots verts do the same thing.

                        1. BostonZest Sep 16, 2007 03:26 PM

                          I recently bought a 24 oz. jar of it at Cosco. I've also picked it up at the Super 88 when I go to get my crabs.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: BostonZest
                            Karl S Sep 16, 2007 03:31 PM

                            I looked in vain for it at Super 88 in Malden last week. I mean, Old Bay is a very basic East Coast American spice - I didn't expect to find it in Super 88, but they've surprised me pleasantly before.

                          2. maillard Sep 16, 2007 03:02 PM

                            I've also found it hard to find. I know that Pemberton Farms on Mass Ave in Cambridge (near Davis Sq) has it in two sizes. Otherwise I've not seen it in my area.

                            1. l
                              lexpatti Sep 16, 2007 02:06 PM

                              Very strange, same thing happened with my Spike - couldn't find it in any stores until I finally hit a large health food store in Manchester, NH. I can always get it at Market Basket or Hannaford, etc. but not in the past several months. I keep lots of Old Bay, sorry. Ave you tried a seafood market or butcher like Butcher Boy in N. Andover?

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: lexpatti
                                three of us Sep 16, 2007 02:41 PM

                                Just bought Spike at Whole Foods in Bedford. They also had the big box of Spike so you don't have to keep buying the little jars.

                                1. re: three of us
                                  The Chowhound Team Sep 17, 2007 06:43 AM

                                  Pardon the interruption, but we've split off a query about what Spike is to the General Topics board:


                              2. coastie Sep 16, 2007 02:05 PM

                                there was cases of old bay for sale at the case lot store here... Which doesn't help you at all but leaves me wondering if its not being made anymore...

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: coastie
                                  passing thru Sep 16, 2007 02:56 PM

                                  it's made by mccormick, which still has all their old bay pages up on their website so it seems like it's still around. i haven't bought any for a couple months so i haven't noticed if its distribution has changed locally. it can certainly still be found via the web, though.

                                2. MC Slim JB Sep 16, 2007 02:05 PM

                                  I haven't found it hard to find at all: I got some Old Bay at a Hannaford's just last weekend. I think Foodie's in the South End carries it, too.

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