Learn The History Of Michigan’s Most Famous Food & Drink Products
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Michiganders have a lot of pride in their state for a variety of reasons. Whether it's the Great Lakes or tourist destinations, our cherished pro and college sports history, music from Motown, craft beer or Michigan made wine, or just the simple geography we love to showcase on shirts and car stickers... we love the mitten.
Another point of pride? Michigan made products, in particular food and beverages. Here is some history you may not know about some famous Michigan-based brands and links to some books you can purchase that dig even deeper into how these became household names in our state.
Upon returning from the Civil War in 1866, James Vernor opened a pharmacy in Detroit. He also opened a barrel of ginger ale extract he had created before the war.
He discovered the four years of aging had mellowed the taste to perfection. A new “deliciously different” flavor had been created, and Vernor’s Ginger Ale was born. From a small drugstore in Detroit to a product enjoyed across America and Canada, Vernor’s is a success story. At over 140 years old, Vernor’s is America’s oldest continuously produced soft drink.
Vernor’s Ginger Ale, written by Keith Wunderlich, takes readers on a journey from pharmacy to factory, from entrepreneur to franchised corporation. Vernor’s is the story of a small back-room product turned into a highly successful brand.
The story of Faygo, Detroit's beloved soda pop, begins over a hundred years ago with two Russian immigrant brothers who were looking to get out of the baking business.
Starting with little more than pots, pails, hoses, and a one-horse wagon, Ben and Perry Feigenson reformulated cake frosting recipes into carbonated beverage recipes and launched their business in the middle of the 1907 global financial meltdown. It was an improbable idea. Through recessions and the Great Depression, wartime politics, the rise and fall of Detroit's population, and the never ending challenges to the industry, the Feigensons persisted. Out of more than forty bottlers in Detroit's "pop alley," Faygo remained the last one standing.
The Faygo Book, by author Joe Grimms, is the story of a pop, a people, and a place. These stories and facts will tickle the taste buds and memories of Detroiters and Faygo lovers everywhere.
Cross and Peters company was founded on August 1st, 1930. The company was named after the founders' first names, Cross and Peter. Both set goals to make a better potato chip, hence the brand name: Better Made Potato Chips. In 1934, the company was incorporated by the founders, the late Peter Cipriano (left in pic) and the late Cross Moceri.
For many, Detroit is the crunch capital of the world. More than forty local chip companies once fed the Motor City's never-ending appetite for salty snacks, including New Era, Everkrisp, Krun-Chee, Mello Crisp, Wolverine and Vita-Boy. Only Better Made remains. From the start, the brand was known for light, crisp chips that were near to perfection.
Discover how Better Made came to be, how its chips are made and how competition has shaped the industry into what it is today. In Better Made In Michigan, Author Karen Dybis explores how Detroit "chipreneurs" rose from garage-based businesses to become snack food royalty.