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Last week, scrolling around Reddit, I encountered an image of someone’s front door, painted to look like the Old Bay packaging. This wasn’t some half-assed Old Bay logo dabbed onto a small portion of the door—no, it was the whole door, turned into a tin of Old Bay. Like you’re walking inside of an Old Bay tin whenever you enter the house.
The online reaction was, if I’m being generous, mixed. For example:
“That looks awful. I hope they fixed it.”
“That looks like absolute shit.”
“Great taste, but awful execution.”
“That’s pretty bad, in my opinion. Whomever was inspired to do this would have benefited from some masking tape and some hand painted lettering practice. At least it’s a cheap Home Depot door and not something historic. I’d be pretty steamed if I came home to this.”
I mean, were the lines straight? No. Was the lettering a little drippy and fucked up? Sure. But I felt that Reddit wasn’t giving this household credit for ambition. They also weren’t asking some key questions, such as, is this homeowner a hostage of the Old Bay lobby, posting a plea for help?
So I called the homeowner, Kevin Connors, who turns out to be a very nice man from Annapolis. He’s a genuine Old Bay enthusiast, not a shill for Big Seafood. While we spoke about his iconic door, he was prepping clam chowder. You’ll never guess what he seasoned it with.
Do you think you could just fill me in on how the door happened?
Sure. Okay, so I didn’t even do it myself. I was in Nashville for a bachelor party and came back on Sunday to an Old Bay door.
The backstory is that I live on a street with, like, four of my cousins. They all built their houses on the street and I bought a house across the street, so we have a—we call it our little HOA. My door was purple before, and at the HOA meetings that we have—which is pretty much we get together and have a drink—they came up with a rule that there are no purple doors allowed on the street. So we were trying to think of funny things to paint it, and we went through a bunch of ideas and Old Bay was one of them. But I never thought it would actually happen, and then I came home from Nashville.
What were the other door theme ideas?
Well, Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon. Random colors—teal was one of them. The Wall was one of them, Pink Floyd The Wall. University of Maryland was one of them, or doing a Nats “W.”
Okay, so you went to a bachelor party and then you came home. What did you think when you saw the door?
I just immediately burst out laughing. It was an audible laugh, no doubt. I mean, I was in the car by myself, tired from the bachelor party. I parked, got out, and then I just stood in front of it for like, two minutes. My cousins literally live across the street from me and they’re just on their front porch, laughing their asses off at me. I was kind of bewildered because I didn’t expect [the door], but I knew exactly who it was as soon as I saw it. My next reaction was to go over to my cousin’s house and be like, “What the hell? This is funny.”
And what did your cousin say about it?
He was still kind of huffing and puffing because he had been trying to get it done before I got home. His wife called me when I was like 30 minutes out, I thought she was just calling to say, like, “Hey, what’s up, when are you getting home,” but she was seeing how much time he had left. That’s what they really cared about.
Yeah, how long did it take to do it?
He said it took hours because he had so many layers of the yellow paint covering the purple. It doesn’t look like it took too long to do the wording, because that’s a little shoddy. But other than that everything’s pretty good. I really like the red cap at the top, I don’t know if you noticed that.
I did, it’s great. So why Old Bay?
Oh, we’re a crabbing family. My cousin bought a crabbing boat with a commercial license two years ago, and every summer it’s just nonstop crabs. I probably have like three or four things of Old Bay in my house right now. I grew up eating it. We all grew up in Maryland, by the bay. We’re Chesapeake kids. And we put it on everything. You know, it’s just that Maryland staple.
Do you mostly use it on crabs? Is there other stuff that you like to eat it with?
Crabs are obviously my go-to. Probably my favorite thing to put it on is french fries with a little bit of vinegar. But I mean, you could put it on anything. I have four chickens. I make eggs every morning, I put it on the eggs.
Hence the Beware of Chickens sign next to your door?
Hence the sign, yeah. Four chickens came with the house when we bought it a couple of years ago.
Wow, I’ve never heard of that.
Yeah. I didn’t have to take them, I just knew they had chickens, and I was like, I kind of want to see what this life’s about.
Do you like the chicken life?
I do like chicken life, they are very easy pets and they’re funny to be around. Actually, for most sporting events, like any championship, I’ll set up two bowls in our yard and print out each of the teams’ logos and put them on a bowl and see which bowl the chicken goes to. And we’ll bet on them, based on what the chickens say. They’re pretty good at it, they’ve won me some money.
Incredible. So what have your neighbors said about your door?
You know, I haven’t—I mean, besides my four neighbors that are my cousins and my friend, I haven’t heard anything from my other neighbors. I do have a video camera that shows my front porch. And I’ve seen a few neighbors walk by and just glance at it and laugh and keep going. But no one’s come up to me and said anything. My cousins did say that when they were painting it, a couple people walked by and thought they were doing the Ukrainian flag.
Did the company reach out at all?
No, the company hasn’t reached out. I tagged them. I was kind of hoping that they would.
I’m curious how you felt when people on Reddit were criticizing the door.
I texted my cousin saying that everyone’s roasting your artistic abilities over here. I thought it was funny. Like, I don’t care. My one cousin was like, “wow, these people are perfectionists on here.”
Are you all planning to touch it up?
Yeah, we are. We definitely talked about that.
What’s the strategy?
Well, painters tape will be a big one. My cousin said it took six layers of yellow to cover the, like, deep purple of the door that I had. So we’ll probably do another layer of that yellow, because you can kind of see the purple. You can’t really see it in the picture, but you can still kind of see the purple on there.
Sounds like you guys are going to do a complete repaint.
Yeah, we’ll definitely paint over. And you know, I liked that one person on the post who said it looks good without the words. But I think we’re going to try and keep the words on there and just make it look a little bit better. It looks a little odd. But like I said, it was a quick job. He literally finished two minutes before I got home. Other than that, there’s a lot more that we could add in, like [the Old Bay tin] has the crabs, the shrimp, and the chicken. A crab would probably be pretty tough to paint, but I have an artist neighbor who actually might be able to do it for us.
So if you’re completely repainting it, it sounds like you’re committing to living with the Old Bay door.
Yeah, definitely for now. I plan on living here for a little while, and I’ll just be that eccentric household on the block, which is fun.
How does it feel to have such a loud door?
Well, the door before was pretty loud—I’m telling you, that purple was pretty purple. But I think it’s cool. I like having the loud door. I kind of have a loud front porch anyway. I have that Beware of Chickens sign, I have a bunch of chicken stuff. And a Nats flag. I honestly still have my Christmas lights up. And then a rocking chair. And my neighbor made a wreath for me that I might put back up. I took it down. It has, like, a bunch of Maryland stuff, and Grateful Dead hippie stuff that I like. I might put that back up, but probably not because I think it takes away from the point of the Old Bay door.
Sounds like you have serious Maryland pride.
What do you love about Maryland?
So much. I love being by the water. I’m in Annapolis, it’s a perfect bay town. My main thing I really love about Maryland is just—we’ve got a little bit of everything. I mean, the Maryland weather will prove that.
Last question. In your “HOA,” is it common to come home and have your house changed?
Yeah, we mess with each other just because we’re all on the same street and we’re all really close. Like one cousin put a water heater in my other cousin’s bedroom while she was gone. She was not happy about it. She just got home from vacation—you know, you’re tired. You kind of just want to lay down and not do anything. And she has this giant water heater in the middle of her room. She wasn’t as happy as I was about the door, I’ll say that.