Old Bay has a new wannabe rival, and the company that produces the iconic seafood seasoning is not amused. Spice titan McCormick is suing the maker of “New Bae” spice blend in a Maryland federal court, Bloomberg reports, claiming that the dubiously named newcomer is causing consumer confusion and tarnishing Old Bay’s reputation.
Just how similar are the two products? According to McCormick’s somewhat murky ingredient listing on its website, Old Bay contains celery salt, “spices (including red pepper and black pepper),” and paprika. New Bae, meanwhile, goes the full disclosure route, offering the following ingredient list for its wannabe spice blend: Himalayan pink salt, paprika, celery, black pepper, ancho chili powder, cayenne, cardamom, allspice, mace, bay leaves.
What Bloomberg fails to mention — and what makes this attempt at capitalizing on Old Bay’s good name much more obnoxious — is the fact that New Bae manufacturer Primal Palate is a paleo spice company, born out of a popular paleo food blog by the same name.
The paleo diet, also sometimes referred to as the caveman diet, is a wildly popular modern fad diet that at least 20 percent of the average millennial friend group is likely to have attempted. It’s supposedly modeled after what hunter-gatherers of the Paleolithic area would have eaten: Think meat, fish, fruits and vegetables, and nuts and seeds — no grains, dairy, or other modern cultivated products.
After receiving a cease-and-desist letter earlier this year, a lawyer for Primal Palate acknowledged to McCormick that the name was intended to be a “nod” to Old Bay. What’s unclear is why the company felt the market needed a more caveman-friendly paprika- and celery-salt based seasoning at all: Both Old Bay and New Bae both seem as about as likely to be eaten as a caveman as, say, an acai bowl. Gathering 10 different herbs and spices to grind into a seasoning blend seems like a task more suited to Colonel Sanders than early humans who walked the earth two million years ago.
(Primal Palate’s product is also certified organic, kosher, Whole30-approved, and non-GMO, however — all things unlikely to be of concern to cave people who were probably busy trying to keep their babies from being eaten by saber-toothed tigers. Also, clearly no caveman would ever utter the word “bae.”)
Eater reached out to multiple experts on the diets of early humans to inquire whether or not the spices in either seasoning would be found on the menu for the typical caveman. None have replied as of press time, likely because they have much more important work to do. Meanwhile, McCormick is demanding New Bae be pulled from the U.S. market and also asking for compensation, including damages and any profits Primal made from its spice blend.