When McCormick’s Old Bay hot sauce hit the market this winter, it sold out in less than a week. Jill Pratt, chief marketing excellence officer at McCormick tells us how this tasty condiment came to be on our tables and the best part of working for Baltimore’s best-known spice company.
Q: Why an Old Bay hot sauce?
A: The idea had been in consideration for well more than five years. And most recently, a couple of key factors led 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 a kick of spicy. We knew it was time for our fans to give it a try.
Q: How many people are involved?
A: There are more than 10 different teams involved in our innovation from start to finish, including research and development, culinary, manufacturing, distribution, marketing and sales—all working together, right here in the Baltimore area, to bring you a bottle of this Old Bay hot sauce.
Q: Does everyone get to taste test?
A: There are many opportunities for our employees to taste products and provide feedback before the flavors are finalized. With Old Bay being a local flavor, it’s important that our employees give us their authentic opinions. I
participate in the tastings, too (it’s the best part). We weigh in on whether it’s too hot or mild, too sweet or salty or whether the color, aroma and texture are appealing. We strive for that perfect combination to get it just right.
Q: How did you come to work at McCormick?
A: I have lived mostly in Baltimore since 1997 and was working locally, in the former P&G Cosmetics division. One of my good friends, who lived in New Jersey, got a call about working at McCormick. Knowing how much I love to cook, he referred them to me. I was so excited about the opportunity to work in food and flavor and have learned so much since I’ve been here. My husband and children are Baltimore natives, and they think I have the coolest job. I always have great flavors for our meals at home and get some great Old Bay swag.
Q: Finally, what do you put the Old Bay hot sauce on?
A: At my house, we keep Old Bay on the table with salt and pepper. I now feel the same way about Old Bay hot sauce. I particularly like it in seafood dishes such as crab dip and a spicy shrimp cocktail. I even tried it on top of deviled eggs last weekend, and it was delicious!