Our state has long held deep pride in its Michigan-made products. Detroit was once the potato chip capital of the U.S., as well as a player in the pickle industry (we really love our snacks). Companies like Kellogg's and Gerber revolutionized how Americans eat — going from consuming homemade and hand-preserved foods to modern, packaged goods. There are also dozens of DIY products that are making waves locally. We dug up the histories of some the most iconic brands around that got their starts right here in Michigan.
Germack Pistachio Co.
Dubbed the oldest roaster of pistachios in the country, this Detroit-based company was founded in 1924 and had locations in the Motor City and New York. To this day, Germack makes gourmet snack nuts, roasts coffee, and its products are still available at its shop at Eastern Market.
Hudsonville Ice Cream
Born in Hudsonville, Mich., this creamery is famous for its limited edition flavors like Lake Superior Thaw, Tiger Traxx, and Grand Hotel Pecan Ball. It got its start in 1895 with a dairy co-op. It's now available all over the Midwest, and during the peak summer months produces some 17,000 cartons a day.
This Michigan brand got its start in a tiny kitchen in 2006, with the inspiration of a recipe from the founder's great grandmother. Though the company has a presence in Brooklyn, New York, its famously spicy pickles are made in Detroit, in a plant near Hamtramck.
Speaking of pickles, Vlasic also got its start in Michigan, inspired by family recipes from the Detroit area's Polish immigrant community. To this day, this iconic pickle-maker maintains headquarters here.
Mackinac Island Fudge
Mackinac Island is synonymous with fudge to vacationers across the country and Original Murdick's is easily a crowd favorite. Founded in 1887, it was the island's first candy shop. To this day, the candymaker follows the same family recipe. Though mostly only available in the U.P., you can also find it sold in three stores in Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts.
Bon Bon Bon
Founded by always-sweet chocolatier Alex Clark in 2014, Bon Bon Bon chocolates in Hamtramck quickly caught the attention of tastemaker/America's favorite felon, Martha Stewart, who helped put the tiny chocolate-maker into the national lexicon. Though not specifically distributed by Bon Bon Bon, Clark's fancy treats can be found in boutique hotels outside of Michigan.
Garden Fresh Gourmet
This Ferndale-based salsa-maker is the latest Michigan brand to garner a national presence after Campbell Soup Co. bought the company in June for $231 million. The brand started out modestly, making fresh salsa in a small, local restaurant, but rose through the ranks in the refrigerated salsa industry. The company went on to make a line of hummus, dips, and tortilla chips.
Not widely available outside of Michigan, Mitten ex-pats across the country continue to order these snacks by the box-full to give them a taste of home. Back in 1930, when the Detroit company was founded, the city was inundated with chip companies. Better Made was among the very few to survive. Each year, the company goes through some 60 million pounds of potatoes, proving that we love our chips here in Michigan.
Michigan, specifically Battle Creek, changed the way Americans eat breakfast, when Will Keith Kellogg founded the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company in 1906. It was those Corn Flakes that got Kellogg on track to be the global cereal giant it is today.
Gerber baby foods started out as home recipes, prepared by the wife of founder Daniel Frank Gerber, when she was asked by their family doctor to specially-formulate grub for their tiny tot.
Faygo first came onto the pop scene in the 1900s, when two Russian immigrants, the Feighenson brothers, started making grape, strawberry and fruit punch-flavored sodas. By the 1920s, they changed the name of their company to Faygo, an abbreviated version of their name. While the brand is largely only available in Michigan, it really became nationally recognized after Detroit hip-hop duo Insane Clown Posse started using it to douse fans — using, most notably, the grape variety.
That Detroit-made remedy for all that ails you, Vernors was founded by pharmacist James Vernor in 1866, who brought America's first ginger ale to the market. The ale is mostly a Michigan-only brand, but can also be found in plenty of Midwest retailers.
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