Old Bay Just Released a Limited-Edition Hot Sauce
If someone asks you to name a Maryland icon, what's the first thing that comes to mind? Is it everyone's favorite potentially rabid mystery author Edgar Allan Poe? Or Havre de Grace's own Oriole, Cal Ripken, Jr., a man whose legend was partially based on the fact that he went to work every day for 16 straight years? Or is it an 81-year-old blend of herbs and spices that more or less makes Maryland seafood taste like... Maryland seafood?
Old Bay Seasoning is the kind of brand that has gone well beyond the spice cabinet, developing the kind of dedicated following that seems like it's equal parts sincere enjoyment and winking irony. (Come on: what else could possibly explain the existence of Old Bay-branded bikini tops, bow ties, and Christmas tree skirts—which are all real things).
Although that unmistakable Old Bay flavor has been added to everything from Bloody Mary mix to beef jerky to a seasonal beer offering from a Frederick, Maryland brewery, its own product line has remained surprisingly small. According to its website, it currently offers six versions of its signature seasoning blend, along with crab and salmon cake mixes, cocktail sauce, and tartar sauce. But a new Old Bay sauce is being released this week and, if social media is any indication, people are here for it.
Starting on Wednesday, Old Bay hot sauce will be available for a limited time through the Old Bay website, and it will start appearing in supermarkets during the "next month or so." Each 10-ounce bottle of the sauce has a suggested retail price of $3.49.
"The idea had been in consideration for well over five years," Kendra Ferguson, a spokesperson with McCormick & Company, told Food & Wine. "And, most recently, a couple of key factors lead to us launching it now: first, the continued rise in popularity of hot sauce and all things spicy, and second, we nailed it on the taste, with just the right amount of that Old Bay flavor, along with a zesty tang and kick of spice. We knew it was time for our fans to give it a try." With regard to how hot the hot sauce is, Ferguson said that she didn't have the Scoville units, but reiterated the part about the "kick of spice."
As of this writing, the 'Shop' section of Old Bay's website was down, possibly because it had been hugged to death by people who were trying to get their hands on just-released bottles of hot sauce. (When Old Bay posted that the sauce was "HERE" and available for sale, most of the comments that followed on Twitter and Instagram were complaints about the website.)
That's not completely surprising: when Old Bay originally announced the sauce's arrival on Twitter, it quickly collected more than 400 responses that were all some version of "I NEED IT NOW." Not to throw any lightly seasoned shade at Edgar Allan Poe, but nobody ever got that hype about "The Raven."
Update Jan. 30, 2019: This article has been updated with an additional comment provided by Old Bay. A tweet from the brand also indicates the online shop sold out of the hot sauce within about an hour.