Old Bay is painting Baltimore blue and gold. The Summer of Baytriotism, a season-long celebration of the distinctive blend of 18 herbs and spices, kicked off at a Thursday morning press conference at Miss Shirley's.
The Summer of Baytriotism will celebrate Old Bay and its Baltimore roots with a gigantic Old Bay can downtown, Baltimore-centric billboards, a restaurant promotion, the launch of Old Bay radio and a new application for smartphones and tablets.
The promotion's visual highlight sits on the corner of Pratt and President streets, where the PMI garage has been crowned with the world's largest Old Bay can.
The oversized can of Old Bay is set to stay on display for one year according to Old Bay's vice president of marketing Jill Pratt. "We'd like it to stay up longer," said Pratt. "So we'll see."
To help promote the celebration, drivers across the area will see over a dozen billboards touting various Baltimore-centric slogans such as: “Real Baytriots Shout ‘O’!” and “Real Baytriots Take Blair Road.”
Taste of Baytriotism, a week-long restaurant promotion (June 22-30), will feature specially created menu items made with the iconic seasoning that preaches the slogan "taste it once, love it forever."
There are 20 restaurants statewide squaring off to win bragging rights and 70 pounds of Old Bay - in honor of the company's seven decades of flavor. The most innovative menu will be judged by former Baltimore Sun columnist Rob Kasper and a panel of Old Bay experts.
Old Bay unveiled a new technology called Blippar, an image recognition platform that allows a smartphone or tablet to convert real world media and brands into an instant digital experience. For instance, when you scan an Old Bay coaster in a bar or restaurant, Blippar instantly recognizes the image and takes you to a Baltimore-themed trivia game. Or, when you scan an Old Bay can, Blippar pulls up an Old Bay recipe book available for download or sharing. New games will be added throughout the summer and will include a Whack-A-Mole spin off called Whack-A-Crab, a duckpin bowling game and a few surprises.
Blippar has gained massive popularity in England but Old Bay is the first U.S. brand to adopt the technology.
At the press gathering, Marianne Handlir was revealed as the winner of the Voice of Baltimore search and named the “Voice of Old Bay Radio.” Handlir’s voice is featured in two nostalgic Old Bay radio spots and is also helping Baltimoreans speak proper "Bawlmarese" on the soundboard of the Old Bay Facebook page.
A truly authentic “Bawlmer” girl, Handlir was born and raised in Highlandtown. She learned to cheer for the O's at Memorial Stadium and her favorite Baltimore-area brands include UTZ and, naturally, Old Bay. She worked at Dalesio's in "Little Italy" and is a proud graduate of The Catholic High School of Baltimore.
"I've never been without it in my kitchen and I just actually love it and I'm honored to be representing something that is totally Baltimore," said Handlir.
Celebrating over 70 years of seasoning, Old Bay has become the quintessential condiment for almost anything edible. The flavor that was once only available to those along the Chesapeake Bay is now in spice cabinets nationwide.
Jake Fewster contributed to this reportCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun