The History of Old Bay Seasoning

August 2, 2019

Fran Lane

Marylanders love Old Bay Seasoning. It seems that everyone has at least one can in their kitchen. It’s the spice and taste of Maryland. We put it on everything. From steamed crabs and shrimp, to chicken and soups, and even on potato chips. Marylanders sure love their Old Bay. But where did this spice come from? Here’s a brief history of this Maryland favorite:

Old Bay Seasoning is named after the Old Bay Line, a passenger ship line that traveled the Chesapeake Bay from Baltimore to Norfolk, Virginia, in the early 1900s. Old Bay Seasoning  is a blend of 18 spices invented by Gustav Brunn. His company became the Old Bay Company in 1939, producing crab seasonings in the unique yellow can container. The spice grew in popularity during the second half of the 20th century. In 1990 the company was purchased by McCormick & Co.  McCormick continued to offer Old Bay in the classic yellow can. According to Gustav Brunn, he had worked for McCormick for a week before starting his own spice business.

In 2017, McCormick changed the packaging from metal cans to plastic containers in an effort to reduce its packaging costs.