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Oct 1, 2007 08:33 AM

Old Bay Seasoning vs. Chesapeake Bay Seasoning.

My marriage is on the line here. My husband, who is from Baltimore, claims Old Bay Seasoning is different from Chesapeake Bay Seasoning. I thought Old Bay was a brand of Chesapeake Seasoning. Who is right?

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  1. Some other spice companies package knock-offs of Old Bay which is a proprietary blend of McCormick's of Baltimore, MD.
    It's the Real Thing that's been most widely used in the Chesapeake Bay area for 60 years for steaming crabs, shrimp and other seafood and as a spice in cooking.
    Get Old Bay.
    Other brands are available but why? Make your husband happy.

    The real thing

    1. 100% agreement with MakingSense on this one. Buck up say you are sorry and cook him something with real old bay, and buy the big container to let him know how much you care.

        1. re: Karl S

          There is no difference other than the high price that Old Bay costs. Many of the good Crab houses(Kantlers, Woodys) make their own and I don't think any one could tell the difference.

          1. re: krandy21784

            High price? Isn't a can of it on the order of $3 or so?

            1. re: krandy21784

              Old Bay is cheap. It has a particular balance of clove that is neither too intense nor too bland that I find is missing in other blends - it's just right. Clove is easy to get wrong.

              1. re: krandy21784

                Geez, the 6 oz can of the Real Thing costs all of $3. That's going to last most cooks a year at one teaspoon here and there.
                If I were Cantler's, using 20+ pounds a day or whatever they use, I might make my own too, but for plain old home use, why cheap out?
                Maybe there's not much difference for steamed crabs, but for crabcakes or in cooking, stick with Old Bay. Too many traditions are fading because people say they don't matter.

                1. re: krandy21784

                  There are a couple of local(Baltimore area) "blenders" who make blends according to what the crabhouse request, their recipe if you will. J.O. Spice
                  puts out several variations...
                  Old Bay was a long time staple produced by the Baltimore Spice Company and was sold several years ago to McCormick...Many old time Marylanders ans some younger ones also have an affinity for Old Bay..
                  Utz Potato Chip Co makes a Crab Chip that will remind one of Old Bay

                  1. re: Hue

                    Herr's Old Bay Potato Chips uses the real thing and don't last after the first bag opening at our house.

                    1. re: CDouglas

                      I hear ya'. An open bag is an empty bag if I'm in the zip code.

                      1. re: CDouglas

                        The Herr's Old Bay cheese curls are really good too.

                2. Old Bay is the real deal. There is no substitue. Which is not to say that other companies don't try, with their silly silly knock-offs.

                  I am a Penzey's fanatic, but their Chesapeake Bay seasoning is not even remotely a good sub when what you're craving is the perfectly balanced secret formula of Old Bay.

                  1. Okay, this comes a little late but here's the deal. Yer ALL WRONG!!!

                    The ORIGINAL OLD BAY came from the Baltimore Spice Company 21208 in Maryland. For YEARS McCormack kept pestering Baltimore Spice Company to give it up for a profitable sum of money. Baltimore Spice Company REFUSED to sell the recipe for some time. About twenty years or so as I recall it. Somewhere between my 20s and now in my 50's, I'd guess around 30, Baltimore Spice caved. I imagine McCormack company offered them quite a healthy sum to let it go.

                    The FIRST thing that Marylander's noticed was the McCormacks blend dubbed Old Bay, was NOT the same recipe. Thousands of Maryland resident's ran to the stores to buy up all the left over cans of Old Bay on the shelves that still had the "Baltimore Spice Company" address on the can. Including me. I still have my original can.

                    What most people believe is McCormack wanted to tout their OWN blend of crab and seafood seasoning and only use the NAME of "OLD BAY" on their label as MOST MARYLANDER'S that had ate the spice for years, including me, said it was NOT the same and completely different which lead to the assumption that McCormack wanted to buy out their competition and dissolve the company so there was no longer any Old Bay to compete with their less enjoyable spice.

                    The ORIGINAL "Old Bay" spice that maryland residents used to steam their highly coveted Maryland Blue Crabs, had a much hotter afterburn when eating the spice from the jar and off the crabs. McCormack's version of Old Bay was less hot, and did not have the same exact blend of spices in proportion to equal the original. There is NOTHING more I'd like to do than get a hold of the original owners and get that recipe ingredient potion in the right proportions and start my own seafood spice company. Maryland residents would go nuts over it and leave McCormack in the dust.

                    When Maryland residents stated they did not like the McCormacks blend of "Old Bay" spice, a new company in Maryland arose as the next spice to steam crabs with and that was JO Spice company that made a better tasting crab seasoning that was similar in flavor to the original Baltimore Spice version of "Old Bay" minus the hotter burn spice that was obviously in the original Old Bay. Furthermore, another company tried to produce a new spice for crabs called WYE RIVER but did not match the original Old Bay nor did it compete and fell to the way side compared to Jo Spice which is used more by Maryland residents who seek the original flavor of Old Bay when it was owned by Baltimore Spice Co.

                    NOW, here is the kicker. McCormack MYSTERIOUSLY came out with ANOTHER Crab/Shrimp seasoning spice after their OWN blend of "Old Bay" was introduced. Hmm, imagine that! WHY would they put out TWO crab seasonings? It was called McCormack's "Chesapeake Bay" seasoning, It was NO WHERE NEAR touted as much as the McCormack own new blend of what they called Old Bay using the Old Bay name only. That newer spice label said "McCormacks Chesapeake Bay Seasoning." Most Maryland residents with GREAT TASTE BUDS that remember the ORIGINAL OLD BAY recipe from Baltimore Spice would tell you that the McCormack's Chesapeake Bay Seasoning blend that they did NOT tout WAS IN FACT the ORIGINAL OLD BLEND recipe of OLD BAY that the Baltimore Spice company made as it has that same exact flavor AND it had that after burn on your tongue that so many Marylanders remember. You'd have to be an older resident in your late 40's or greater to remember the original OLD BAY but I can tell you, after trying McCormack's OTHER crab seasoning "Chesapeake Bay seasoning" I can say for certain it was the ORIGINAL OLD BAY seasoning but McCormack eventually ended it's run and took it off the shelf! IF you can get a bottle of this seasoning left out there, you can experience the original OLD BAY seasoning. And I'll pay you good money for it! ;)

                    Shawn Kelley, Maryland.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: ShawnKelley

                      This breaks my heart. I just recently used the last of a big box of this seasoning I got from my mother when she died in 1987. It lived in the freezer all this time and kept its flavor till the end. I was just starting to look around to replace it and now I know that it is probably futile. Too bad! I spent summers on the Chesapeake in my youth, and we always sprinkled it over our crabs when we cooked them. So sad and frustrating to hear that we can't get it anymore. More corporate greed and stupidity. Time to outlaw corporate "per$onhood."

                      1. re: kstingle

                        You have no idea how much I'd like to get my hands on an original Old Bay or even better that McCormacks Chesapeake Bay Seasoning. THAT was real Old Bay. I recently went to Wegmans in columbia, Maryland after it recently opened and I had the lobster sandwich and asked them for some old bay. They gave me the can of McCormacks Old Bay. I put it on the sandwich and it was SO lousy it ruined my sandwich. Which brings me to going to Wegmans last weekend for another lobster sandwich. I walked in with my OWN salt shaker filled with Jo Spice and used that instead on my sandwich. I won't use McCormacks Old Bay anymore. It just isn't the real deal, tastes nothing like the original and is LOUSY compared to. I'm just SHOCKED that McCormack would stoop SOOOO LOW to "BUY OUT" another company to dissolve it rather than show TRUE INTEREST in food spices and keep the original recipe so fond to so many Delmarva residents that was a staple here for so many years. It really ticks me off that McCormack executives at the top would be so greedy to wipe out a small company that stands in their way to selling crab and shrimp spice seasoning in order to sell their own crappier tasteless product. Old Bay SUCKS! Period! Ask any Marylander and they'll tell you. "Old Bay? Oh god, no! It sucks! It's terrible compared to the original Old Bay by Baltimore Spice company." Me included! ;)

                        1. re: kstingle

                          BY THE WAY!!! Here is the original OLD BAY that McCormack sold under a different name of Chesapeake Bay Seasoning! THIS was the one they took off the market a few years ago. They did not push it at all. But they kept pushing Old Bay they have now that's terrible. The one pictured here, THAT was Baltimore Spice's batch in that container they relabeled to something else. If ANYONE knows where I can get this stuff, HIT ME BACK! I want to buy all you got left!


                        2. re: ShawnKelley

                          I was, at this moment, searching for a new can of McCormick's Chesapeake Bay Seafood Seasoning, which has been the only one I would use over the past 35 years. On my stove is (after reading your post) my last pot of chowder. The last of my CB has been tapped out of the can. I am heart broken. If I had known, I would have socked up. When I asked my mother to send me a can...back in ... years ago, I thought it was hard to find because I lived in Texas while she lived in Florida. I can't believe its gone!! Wow, even as I write this, I'm beginning to feel anger. Many other spice blends have been given to me. NONE compare!!
                          Dear McCormick,
                          Give us back our Chesapeake Bay Style Seafood Seasoning... Or give up the recipe.


                          1. re: ShawnKelley

                            You won't be able to do that because Mccormicks own the original recipe. If you try to sell a copycat of the original they will sue you. How will they know, you ask? By reverse engineering your version in a chemistry lab. They will know what spices you used and in what proportions. The original owners are also probably sworn to secrecy as a term of the sale, so you won't get it from them or they will be sued.

                            1. re: Jobe1

                              Nope. Manufacturers of all kinds of things, from paint to seasonings to cosmetics, hire laboratories to "break" the formula on high-sales products so that they can copy them.

                              The changes you have to make to sidestep the intellectual property issues are small and usually insignificant.