• 22
    Posted in:
    The History of Faygo is Immersed In Detroit Pride
     Featured image by Angie Linder via Flickr

    Detroit is a city built on hard work, ingenuity, and industry, and one of the sweetest things to come from it in the last century is Faygo (Vernors is, of course, the spiciest). The brand has a fascinating history that ultimately represents the American Dream. After celebrating 110 years in Detroit with their first Thanksgiving Day Parade float last year, they’ve given us cause to reflect on their contributions to culture and how they’ve been able to represent the idea that Detroiters are capable of big things.

    Two Bakers, One Dream

    Brothers Perry and Ben Feigenson immigrated from Russia in 1905. They had been bakers before and decided to keep their business going in Detroit. Within a year, they became involved in a scandal wherein a competing baker filed a lawsuit against the Feigensons and two other Jewish bakers, claiming they had been issuing handbills that said the accuser was selling old bread. The outcome of the case is still unknown.

    As the Feigensons continued baking, they opened a side business bottling lager, mineral water, and soda water. The brothers also began experimenting with adding flavors they used for their frostings to their soda. This resulted in three carbonated beverages with grape, fruit punch, and strawberry flavors, the last of which later became known as Redpop. They also shortened the name of their company so it could fit on their bottles. Thus Feigenson Brothers Bottling Works became Faygo and a brand was born.

    Bottling Pop For Detroit

    Because of the sound the soda bottles made when they were opened, their soda concoctions were nicknamed “pop.” While Wayne State points out the term “pop” for carbonated beverages predates Faygo, many claim that Faygo’s adoption of the term is why Michiganders still refer to soda as such.

    In addition, the drink’s short shelf life required the company to deliver their products in a Ford Truck. How much more Detroit can you get?

    Faygo cold

    Faygo keepin’ Detroit cold // Image by JB via Flickr

    Faygo As It’s Known Today

    Faygo has come a long way from offering only a few flavors. While they still offer their original three, they’ve grown to offer over 26 flavors of pop, and that doesn’t include their diet flavors or Ohana brand of iced teas and lemonades. Their range is so diverse that one website even set out to have fans rank them in order!

    These fans are also worth mentioning. There is a hip-hop group called the Insane Clown Posse (ICP) that is very loyal to Faygo products. These are the same fans that Thrillest.com recruited to rank Faygo flavors, and it’s these followers, nicknamed “Juggalos” and “Juggalettes,” that spray plastic bottles of the famed pop on each other at concerts. It’s a strange tradition, but it’s one meant to celebrate ICP’s Detroit roots.

    The Future of Pop is Paved By Innovation

    On top of their float in last year’s parade, the brand is still thriving. Last year they rereleased a flavor that hadn’t been on shelves in over 25 years: Arctic Sun. Faygo’s website implies that they’re looking to continue innovating soda flavors just like the Feigenson brothers did when they were still bakers. With the fun, playful language they’re known for, Faygo says:

    “We look forward to pioneering other adventurous flavors on the outer edges of undiscovered taste buds everywhere.”

    Whether you’re a fan of Rock & Rye or you think their sodas are too sweet, it’s hard not to resist telling out-of-towners about the peculiar brand that’s lined the shelves of every Meijer, Kroger, and Busch’s we’ve ever been to. And now that you know a bit of history about Faygo, you can help spread the legend of a company that started with two immigrants, three flavors, and a Ford truck as well as how they became the representatives of the sweetest side of our city.