Day 297: Faygo

Day 297: Faygo
The Awesome Mitten - Faygo
Photo courtesy of Roger Gastman

For over 105 years of pop production, Faygo Beverage Corporation has been a proud Michigan company.  Faygo is often credited with coining the term “pop” because of the sound the bottle makes when opened.

Back in 1907, the Feigenson Brothers established a bottling company in Monroe, Mich.  Drawing from their Russian roots and baking experience, they began creating sodas, inspired by cake frostings from their home-country: fruit punch, strawberry, and grape. The brothers controlled the company until the 1940s, then transferred it to their sons who continued to push the business.

Faygo remained a Michigan-sold product, only until the latter half of the 1950s.  It was discovered that the water used to make the pop wasn’t being filtered properly; when it mixed with the other beverage ingredients, the pop had a limited shelf life—possibly exploding.  Faygo consulted chemists to resolve the problem.  Once water was filtered properly and maintained a longer shelf life, Faygo expanded advertising and marketing.

Black Bart became the Faygo mascot during the 1950s with the famous slogan, “Which way did he go? Which way did he go? He went for a Faygo!”  Later in the 1960s, Faygo purchased advertising space during Tigers games and the Detroit soda’s popularity soared, as a result. Faygo continued to use Michigan and Detroit related themes in future ad campaigns.  Later, in the 1970s, Faygo produced television ads featuring Bob-Lo Island, formerly an amusement park popular in the Detroit area. Faygo billboards around the Detroit area often feature Detroit-related symbols.  For example, the “i” in Detroit or the “1” in 313 (Detroit’s phone area code) are replaced with a bottle of Faygo.

The Awesome Mitten - Faygo
Photo courtesy of Krissy Schwab

For the 100th anniversary, Faygo re-released classic flavors, Root Beer, Rock ‘n’ Rye, and Red, Orange, and Grape Pop in 16-ounce glass bottles.  In 2009, Bon Appetite Magazine awarded Faygo the honor of Best Tasting Root Beer in America, beating out popular national brands like A&W and Barq’s Root Beer.

Faygo continues to evolve and change, matching customer demands and tastes.  Recently, the company started producing more diet variations of their drinks.  Additionally, it strives to invent unique flavor combinations, like the popular 60/40 (60% grapefruit and 40% lime), Chocolate Crème Pie Soda, Red Pop with lemon, Pineapple Watermelon, Cotton Candy, and whole host of other flavors.  Even after being sold to the National Beverage Corporation in 1997, Faygo still remains the staple beverage of most Michiganders.

Next time you go to buy a pop, reach for a Michigan-made Faygo!

Krissy Schwab, Feature Writer

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The Awesome Mitten was born when I moved back to Michigan from Nashville, TN in September 2010. Almost immediately, I became frustrated. I couldn’t figure out why there weren’t more Michigan residents singing our states praises! I was so irritated, I wrote a Letter to the Editor. Three weeks later, I had started a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and a landing page for the website, determined to do something to make Michigan residents aware of all the cool things going on in their own state. Email me: alex@awesomemitten.com