The makers of Gordon's Chesapeake Classics foods knew they had a good Maryland Red Crab Soup, but it wasn't until last week that they knew it was out of this world.
That was when the owners of the Pocomoke City food processor found out that their soup was among the provisions carried by the astronauts on the space shuttle Atlantis as it rocketed to the international space station.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration officials say astronaut Tom Jones, one of three Baltimore natives on the mission, brought the soup to the Johnson Space Center in Houston and asked that it be freeze-dried and included in the food rations.
Steve Gordon, co-owner of Mid-Atlantic Foods, which produces the Chesapeake Classics line, said he didn't know that his soup was in space until a local news reporter called. "It was a thrill," he said.
Gordon said the Maryland Red Crab Soup is the leading seller in the company's Chesapeake Classic line, which includes soups, sauces, canned seafood and, most recently, chili.
The soup is distributed throughout the East Coast and as far west as Minnesota, and the company is planning to expand its distribution network soon to the West Coast.
Now company officials are trying to figure out how to make the most of their new claim to fame. "How can we ride this as far as possible?" Gordon asks.
They've talked about putting something on their labels -- like a picture of the space shuttle.
After all, without a plug from the astronauts, who would have ever heard of Tang?