25 years ago, McDonald’s introduced a crab cake
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.