The Untold Truth Of Lawry's Seasoned Salt

Sometimes salt and pepper just don't cut it and you need some more flavors to season your food. This is where the use of a seasoning salt might come in. From Old Vienna, to Bojangle's, to Bolner's, there are a number of regional brands, but perhaps the best known is Lawry's Seasoned Salt (via The Takeout). Interestingly, the majority of flavored salts like Lawry's are referred to as "seasoning salt," whereas Lawry's makes vary apparent that they are a "seasoned salt."

The history of Lawry's Seasoned Salt goes back over 80 years, to 1938, when Lawry's The Prime Rib opened in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles (via Discover Los Angeles). It was a swanky place to get dinner, and there was only one thing on the menu: prime rib. Eating at the restaurant was a fancy production — the roast beef was taken out to the tables from the kitchen on a stainless steel cart and carved in front of the guests. The carts were heated with pans of burning charcoal at the bottom. When they were full, the carts weighed 900 pounds — so heavy that the floors of the restaurant had to be fit to accommodate them

The sides included with the prime rib were traditional fixings: spinach, baked or mashed potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, and horseradish whipped cream. In 1938, the cost of a meal at the restaurant was only $1.25.

So popular it was stolen

To hear Richard Frank, son of Lawrence Frank, the co-founder of Lawry's, tell it, his father was something of a stickler and wanted a seasoning for his customers to use on their prime rib, which has to be seasoned after it's been carved (via Lawrys A La Carte).

The junior Frank recalled his father bringing home spices, herbs, and other ingredients, and experimenting with them for months. Once his father had come up with an acceptable blend, the family was pleased to find that the salt didn't only season prime rib to perfection, but enhanced the taste of many other foods as well. The mixture contains salt, sugar, paprika, turmeric, onion, and garlic (via Taste Cooking).

Once the formula was established, they put the seasoning salt on the table on the table right next to the salt and pepper. The new invention was so popular that guests stole the salt and brought it home with them.

Lawry's fans in high places

Given what a hit it was, Richard Frank came up with the idea to bottle it and distribute it outside the cozy confines of the restaurant (via Los Angeles Times). The Franks founded a separate company to manufacture and distribute the salt. The famous "L" logo which still adorns the bottles today was designed in 1959 by Saul Bass, who also designed logos for companies like AT&T and Continental Airlines (via Looniverse). Things went incredibly well and the salt was a hit in homes all across the United States, as well as perhaps the most well-known home in the country as well. In the 1970s, Lawry's had a fan in the White House. President Richard Nixon's favorite snack was cottage cheese with Lawry's sprinkled on top (via The Washingtonian). As of 2004, Lawry's was so popular that its sales in the United States were on par with sales of normal table salt.

The brand, along with other seasoning blends and marinades invented by the family was bought by McCormick in 2008 for $604 million (via Business Wire).

Today, the official website suggests that it be used on "French fries, baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, hash browns, or any potato side dish." Nowhere is it mentioned that it should be used on prime rib, the dish for which it was invented.