The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Not even Old Bay can save the McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish

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Old Bay seasoning is Maryland's magical fairy dust: Sprinkle it on almost any seafood -- or even beer and doughnuts -- and it becomes even more delicious. It is one of the infallible constants in the universe; practically science.

Until now, that is, when the humblest of seafood sandwiches, a McDonald's Filet-O-Fish, has disproven the Old Bay Theory of Relativity. In a special promotion, the global megachain began mixing Old Bay into its tartar sauce at 700 area McDonald's restaurants.

And unfortunately, the seasoning did not improve the sandwich, which remains the same flavorless fish stick and slice of yellow cheese substance on a strangely elastic bun from your elementary school cafeteria. (Though some notable foodies, like former Saveur editor James Oseland, may disagree.) The Lenten season is a big time for fast-food fish sandwiches, as observant Catholics eschew meat on Fridays through Easter.

For what it's worth, the folks at the Baltimore Sun liked the Old Bay tartar sauce, writing:

One colleague gave it an unreserved thumbs-up before he ran into a meeting. Another said he was overwhelmed by the Old Bay flavor at first but once he adjusted to it, he enjoyed the little kick provided by the seasoning blend, a mix of celery salt, red and black peppers and other spices ...
The seasoned tartar sauce really isn’t half bad. I got pickle at the first taste and pepper right after. And it’s more visually appealing than the traditional Filet-O-Fish tartar sauce, which was inadvertently applied to one of the four sandwiches we ordered.

You know what's really good, though? The cute little Old Bay stickers on the box. We'll take a dozen!