New Old Bay

Anyone who has ever visited the Chesapeake Bay area is familiar with Old Bay Seasoning. The zesty blend that includes celery salt, ground bay leaf, mustard seed, black and red pepper, cinnamon,ginger and other spices is highlighted in a bounty of dishes, from coating steamed crustaceans in a crab feast to dusting on french fries.

I was recently told by a native Marylander that when the original Old Bay Company sold to the global manufacturer McCormick and Company, the new buyer altered the recipe. According to certain tasters, the new Old Bay has too much sweetness from added amounts of cinnamon and sugar, and too much salt.

I wasn't around in the 1940's to sample Gustav Brunn's original Old Bay recipe, so it's difficult to detect the change. Still, I found the iconic yellow can of seasoning in my spice drawer recently, and decided to put the supposed new characteristics of the blend to good use. I found a recipe for spiced nuts, a snack that's at its best when it's on the salty-sweet side. The outcome was delicious. Some may be picky about seasoning when it comes to a recipe for delicate crab, but on nuts at least, Old Bay is an excellent way to go.

Old Bay Spiced Nuts

This recipe is a slight variation of the one found on


2 tablespoons butter, melted

4 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning

1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons hot sauce

1 cup pecan halves

1 cup peanuts


  1. Stir together melted butter, Old Bay Seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, and hot sauce; add pecans, tossing to coat. Place nuts in an aluminum foil-lined 15- x 10-inch sheet pan.
  2. Bake seasoned nuts at 300° for 30 minutes, stirring twice. Cool and serve (can be stored in an air tight container up to 2 weeks)

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