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June 19, 2008

Spike seasoning (Recipe: grilled chicken salad)

Spike1

Helmut Eugen Benjamin Gellert Hauser must have had the world's most perfect pantry.

How else could he have concocted the latest addition to my own pantry -- his famous Spike seasoning -- which combines 39 ingredients (Really. 39. Can you count them in the photograph?):

Salt and sea salt crystals, special high potency non-active nutritional yeast grown on beet molasses, hydrolyzed vegetable protein (the box says NO ADDED MSG, but we'll come back to this), mellow toasted onion, onion powder, orange powder, soy flour, celery leaf powder, celery root powder, garlic powder, dill, kelp, Indian curry, horseradish, ripe white pepper, orange and lemon peel, summer savory, mustard flower, sweet green and red peppers, parsley flakes, tarragon, rosehips, saffron, mushroom powder, parsley powder, spinach powder, tomato powder, sweet Hungarian paprika, celery powder, cayenne pepper, Greek oregano, French sweet basil, French marjoram, French rosemary, and Spanish thyme.

Gayelord Hauser, as he was known, was a German-born naturopath, nutritionist to the stars, and, it's rumored, more-than-a-friend of Greta Garbo.

As a teenager, he moved to the United States, and shortly afterwards contracted tuberculosis. Sent to Sweden to be treated by a monk who used herbal and dietary cures, Hauser made a full recovery, and upon his return to the US, embarked on the study of "food science." He's best known as the author of Look Younger; Live Longer, published in 1950 way ahead of the eat-to-live curve. Though he died in 1984, Hauser's seasonings have been manufactured in Wisconsin by Modern Products Inc. for more than 50 years.

Available in supermarkets and online (the 7-ounce box sells for $4.99), Spike comes in salt-free and flavored blends -- garlic, lemon pepper, hot and spicy -- and adds awesome flavor and instant umami to cottage cheese and egg breakfast muffins, turkey meatloaf, poutine, garlic shrimp stir fry and spicy chickpeas, beef and cilantro.

Though the package says NO ADDED MSG, Spike does contain hydrolyzed vegetable protein, which is a form of glutamic acid, or monosodium glutamate. (To learn more, read this article and this one and this one.)

I am one of those people who turns beet red in Chinese restaurants that cook with MSG, but I love Spike, and I haven't had an MSG reaction when I've used it. Doesn't mean the MSG isn't there, just that the amount of it used at any one time is miniscule and doesn't seem to affect me.

What does affect me is flavor, and the flavor is great. I'll be using this all-purpose seasoning on grilled foods, eggs, veggies, and in salad dressings all summer. Thanks, Kalyn, for introducing Spike to my pantry.

Grilled chicken salad

When friends drop in unexpectedly, toss this chicken salad with some Dreamfields rotini and grilled asparagus to make a complete meal. Serves 4.

Ingredients

1-1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 Tbsp Spike seasoning
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp fresh thyme leaf
1/4 cup chopped celery

Directions

Trim the fat from the chicken breasts, and place on a platter. Sprinkle on both sides with Spike and ground pepper. Drizzle on the olive oil, and turn to coat. Set aside.

Heat a grill to high heat. Cook the chicken breasts for 4 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Remove from grill and set aside.

While the chicken is cooling, combine mayonnaise, mustard and thyme leaf in a large mixing bowl. Add the chopped celery. Chop the chicken breasts, and add to the bowl. Toss to combine. Serve warm or chilled, in a sandwich or salad, with or without pasta.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]


More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Curried orzo chicken salad
Brick-grilled chicken breasts
Curried shrimp and pasta salad
Roasted pepper chicken

Comments

I've talked to women who went to his lectures in Boston, probably in the 30's. I got the feeling that he attracted adoring female fans. Spike has a twist that makes plain food wake up. ...Now I see why I turn on the computer after midnight: to be the first comment!

I used to use and love this seasoning many years ago, but I developed multiple allergies, especially gluten intolerance, and it is now a big no-no. I make my own version of it now, using the label as a 'jumping off point', and leaving out or subbing for, those things to which I am allergic. Do warn others though, if you use this in your cooking. There are several 'dangerous' (for allergic people) ingredients in there.

Good lord, I forgot all about Spike! There was a time when every recipe seemed to call for it... and I know my mother and grandmother always used it. Then it sort of fell off the radar. Thanks for the reminder... it's such a great way of adding instant pizazz to pretty much anything!

You know I use to use msg when I make Chinese food because I really know it makes a difference, but the hubby is so against it so it disappeared from our pantry (although I do sneak it in through Knorr seasoning). It's good to know about spike because glutamates in one form or another do wake up the flavor of food and in my opinion prevents the nasty taste of leftover chicken.

That is the first time I see this, Lydia - that guy was pretty inspired the day he came up with this seasoning!

I'm just so happy that you liked it! I have heard from others about the hydrolized vegetable protein, but I've used it for about 30 years and it's never bothered me. I'm glad it was okay for you. The photo is just spectacular too!

BTW, your research skills are quite amazing!

msg always makes me sleepy! I don't think I've ever tried Spike...sounds good on mashed potatoes

If I have another boy, I am most certainly naming him Gayelord.
Wow!
Thanks for the reminder of Spike!! I haven't seen or though about it since I was a little girl growing up and my dad put it on everything.

I wonder if I could stir in some of them when making noodle soup. The Spike Seasoning looks like those seasonings pre-packed with instant noodle...those evil seasoning packs which I usually do not use. :P but Spike seems to be more natural.

Susan, when I was researching this post, I got the same feeling about Gayelord and women. Garbo was not his only lady friend.

Carolina, excellent point. I remember the days when ingredients were not required to be listed on packaging -- how many allergic reactions could have been avoided with better labeling?

Ann, I never knew about Spike when I was growing up. In my house, the "spice" of choice was Lawry's Seasoned Salt.

Veron, I definitely think that glutamates are a taste we get accustomed to (addicted to?). But I am glad that most Chinese restaurants here do not use MSG anymore.

Patricia, I have this image in my mind of a kind of "mad scientist" tossing in everything on his spice rack!

Kalyn, it's really fun to research these posts and learn about each thing in my pantry. And I knew nothing about Spike before you so kindly sent it to me.

Jaden, Spike would be great on potatoes -- that's definitely on my list of things to try.

Aimee, I wonder if Spike was a regional thing -- I never heard of it when I was growing up in the northeast US. But I'm glad to know of it now.

Tigerfish, you're so right, it does taste a bit like those evil little seasonings packets that many of us just throw away.

How interesting! I had no idea. I can't do Spike due to food allergies, but it sounds intriguing. Great post!

You know, I've seen Spike at my co-op, but never knew what it was. Thanks! And the recipe looks tasty, too!

Lydia- Greetings from Lyme, Ct while visiting my family. Just around the corner from you. Never heard of spike seasoning but it sounds pretty good. Nothing like a good chicken salad in the summer.

I can't read the name Gaylord without thinking of the movie Meet the Parents. lol
That box looks very retro to me. What an interesting mix, plus a fascinating post!

i've never heard of this stuff! will have to track it down. glutamic acid is the cause of umami, so no wonder it's good!

I guess with Hauser's full name, he would be an authority on catchy names. Great packaging too. It has been a long time since I've had it...sounds great with the chicken, fast too.

Karina, thanks! It would be fun to deconstruct this spice blend, using the things you can eat, and adding your own twist. Maybe you could top Hauser's total of 39 spices!

Erika, I've never seen Spike anywhere in the stores. Maybe I just live in a Spike free zone...

Kim, what a beautiful day to be in Lyme. Hope you're enjoying your visit.

Kristen, I wonder if the packaging has changed much in 50 years -- it does have that retro look, doesn't it?

Michelle, it's much easier to find online than in my local markets. And it seems to have loads of umami -- really adds that flavor profile to everything I've tried.

Callipygia, I thought about that, too. Long name, short product name! Hope you can find it in your grocery store.

After reading these comments, I feel like I'm one of the few people in the world who has never heard of this seasoning!

Not that I need another box/bottle of ANYTHING in my pantry, but if run across a box of Spike seasoning, I am picking it up out of curiosity alone. TB and all, Mr. Hauser sounds like he might have been quite the ladies man---and I can't help but think his Spike had something to do with it!

I have never heard of Spike - I'll check it out!

Sandie, I'd never heard of it either until I read about it on Kalyn's blog. I think Gayelord had an interesting life, though it seems that he was thought to be a quack for many years. Hollywood embraced him, though!

TW, as you can see, it's new to me, too. But I immediately wanted some in my pantry, especially for grilling season.


Spike is a guilty pleasure of mine! I like it on pasta with veggies and butter....and also on popcorn!
Great post!

Lydia, we have a terrific local art-house movie theater in our town where they offer - among other things - Spike to top your popcorn. It's delicious!

This reminds me of Furikake, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Furikake

The great thing about furikake is that its components tend to be less ground up, and therefor contribute interesting textures as well as taste to a dish. It's definitely a must in my pantry!

Never heard of this, Lydia. Your grilled chicken salad sounds yummy. Thanks for explaining the "no msg added" phrase. I always suspect that when it says that on labels it means that there is msg from other ingredients in the mix.

Mary, you're not the first person to mention popcorn. I am definitely going to have to try this.

Marilyn, popcorn! You and Mary have got me thinking about this.

Cherrytreegirl, welcome to The Perfect Pantry. I've heard of furikake but don't have it in my pantry. Sounds like something I need to experiment with.

Nora, food labeling is great, but it doesn't always tell the whole truth, does it?

It's been so long since I've had spike! I lived off of this stuff in the backcountry. It was such a great flavor enhancer to our backpacking dishes.

I used to sprinkle it (spike) on popcorn too, just like Marilyn! Now I use brewers yeast for my popcorn topping! Yum! It has a nutty and saltiness that is perfect!

I've heard of it, but never stumbled in to it, silly me. That being said, with a good dose of MSG in my pho? My tongue swells up and I lose my taste buds for up to 3 days, this is coupled with some fancy headaches. Am still going to give it a shot, love the history.

xo, Biggles

I always learn something new when I visit your blog! It sounds like an excellent and versatile seasoning ;)

WORC, I am sure I'm nearly the last person to have tried Spike, but I can see how it could become completely addictive. And the popcorn thing -- obviously popular! I've never tried brewer's yeast on popcorn, though -- but you've made me curious about that.

Biggles, MSG has the same effect on me, yet I've not had trouble with the Spike. The flavor is intense, so you wouldn't use much at one time, and maybe that's the secret -- there just isn't enough MSG to bother me, or the form of MSG in the hydrolized vegetable protein is not the same. I honestly don't know, but if you try it, go slowly.

Wiffy, I'm still new to Spike and I'm having fun experimenting with it. (and I'm still learning, too!)

This is one post I'm glad I came late to! This is one of those what's old is new again! I first started using Spike in the late 70's I think, then it went out of our pantry sometime probably in the 90's. I just started using it again recently . . . yes thanks to Kalyn.
You really do great research and weave it into things so well.

MyKitchen, thank you so much. I do try to learn something new about each item in my pantry, and to share that in a practical (and sometimes not so practical!) way. I'm coming late to Spike, but I'm really enjoying having it in the pantry.

can't cook without spike, it's that simple. I put it in everything. Love it!!!

Hi Lydia

Could I use my George Foreman Grill to cook the chicken breasts in or a hot cast iron pan instead of starting up a big grill.

Jackie, don't see why not. I'm sure George would approve.

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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