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The Maryland Curiosity Bureau

What's the story behind Old Bay?

old bay
Old Bay merchandise on display at the gift shop, 'Baltimore in a Box' (photo credit: Aaron Henkin / WYPR)

Listener Joanna Reed wanted to know how the crab seasoning, Old Bay, got started and how it became such a Maryland icon. So, food writer Jen Wheeler joins us this episode to tell the story of how a German Jewish immigrant made his way to Baltimore and ended up creating the best thing to ever happen to shellfish. We pay a visit to the inventor’s original spice grinder. And we try to get the McCormick spice company to reveal what’s actually in the secret mix.

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Gustav Bruun's original spice grinder is on display at the Baltimore Museum of Industry. (Photo credit: Aaron Henkin / WYPR)

In this episode, we hear from:

Food writer Jen Wheeler

Baltimore Museum of Industry Executive Director Anita Kassoff

McCormick Chief Marketing Officer Jill Pratt

Aaron creates and produces original radio programs and podcasts for WYPR. His current project is The Maryland Curiosity Bureau. Aaron's neighborhood documentary series, Out of the Blocks, earned the 2018 national Edward R Murrow Award. His past work includes the long-running weekly cultural program, The Signal, and the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings series, Tapestry of the Times. Aaron's stories have aired nationally on NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered.