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Who’s The Mystery Man Behind Old Bay Seasoning?

On this week’s episode of Proof, how an immigrant working above a crab shack created a wildly popular spice blend.

Published Sept. 16, 2021.

What do a war refugee, blue crabs, and bikinis have in common? Old Bay Seasoning. It's the spice blend sprinkled in crab shacks, the governor’s mansion, and everywhere between in Maryland. It’s also sold in supermarkets across the country, and the iconic yellow and red can is plastered on everything from coffee mugs and socks to throw pillows, and yes, bikinis. (T-shirts read: “I put Old Bay on my Old Bay.”) Actor Melissa McCarthy pulls a can out of her bra in the movie “Thunder Force.” I have a friend who always travels with it tucked away in her suitcase. 

Passion for Old Bay runs deep but it wasn’t predestined to become a superstar of the spice aisle. In fact the inventor, Gustav Brunn, was fired from seasoning giant McCormick & Company before his first day on the job. This after he’d wrested his family (and spice grinder) from the Nazis, walking in, and then out, of the Buchenwald concentration camp. 

On this week's episode of Proof, reporter Claudia Rosenbaum brings us the story of Old Bay Seasoning and the man behind the can.

Listen to this episode on your favorite podcast player.

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Photo: The Washington Post, Getty Images

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