25 years ago, McDon­ald’s in­tro­duced a crab cake

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By Christina Tkacik THEN & NOW ctkacik@balt­sun.com

Twenty-five years ago McDon­ald’s made Mary­land his­tory when it rolled out a new item on the menu: a crab cake sand­wich. The Golden Arches served up their take on the crus­tacean pat­ties at dif­fer­ent test lo­ca­tions along the East­ern Shore and two in Bal­ti­more, be­gin­ning in spring 1992. They later ex­panded to sell at all 91 Mickey D’s in the Bal­ti­more area.

“More cake than crab but they are fast and they are cheap,” ran a Sun head­line that year ac­com­pa­ny­ing food critic Rob Kasper’s luke­warm re­view of the McDon­ald’s (and Wendy’s) ver­sion of the Mary­land sta­ple. While they were a far cry from the tra­di­tional Mary­land crab cake — “lump crab meat held to­gether by lit­tle more than willpower,” he wrote — at $2.99 (or $5.21in to­day’s cur­rency), it was hard to sum­mon a more vo­cif­er­ous com­plaint.

How­ever, for other Mary­lan­ders, the new menu item seemed to sig­nal the on­set of the apoc­a­lypse.

“It’s all over, for­get it; this is a sad, sad state of af­fairs,” one cus­tomer told The Wash­ing­ton Post.

The hor­rors mounted the fol­low­ing year when McDon­ald’s an­nounced it would be us­ing mostly crab sourced in In­dia rather than the more ex­pen­sive Mary­land blue crab. Yet they had the nerve to still call it a “Mary­land-style crab.”

Some thought the McDon­ald’s ver­sion could bring shame across the in­dus­try. “If the crab cake tastes re­ally lousy, peo­ple ... eat­ing crab for the first time may never try it again,” Wil­liam Siel­ing of the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture told The Sun in 1993.

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