Russian immigrant brothers Ben and Perry Feigensen founded a pop brand on this day, starting with grape, fruitpunch, and strawberry which would later be renamed as redpop as the initial flavors. The flavors were based on the Feigenson brothers’ cake frosting recipes.
Since Feigensen would not fit on a pop bottle very well, the name was shortened to Faygo. Faygo was heavily advertised at Detroit Tiger games, and eventually spread out into 32 different states, mostly east of the Mississippi.
Author and former Free Press editor Joe Grimm’s new book, “The Faygo Book,” explores not only the timeline of the influential company, but the social history that has bonded it to the city of Detroit.
The book features an inside look into Faygo’s founders, who pledged to keep the company in Detroit, despite the tricky economic times the city has seen through the last century.
Faygo was even the last pop bottler on “Pop Alley” — where in 1935 some of Faygo’s neighbors on Gratiot Avenue on the east side of Detroit included plants and bottlers from Pepsi-Cola and Coca-Cola, and 40 others, who eventually left the neighborhood. Faygo eventually absorbed the two cola companies buildings and connected them to make a 400,000-square-foot complex, where the headquarters still stands.
Faygo sold to National Beverage in 1987, but still is produced in Detroit.
And since the company is defined by its presence in Detroit, many infamous Detroiters have had run-ins with Faygo. In the book, Grimm notes that while Henry Ford called the drink, sold outside his factory around the turn of the century, “belly wash,” hip-hop group Insane Clown Posse adores the soft drink so much that “Faygo showers” are an integral part of its live performances.
But let’s get one thing straight: it’s pop … not soda. But Faygo didn’t coin the term. It dates to 1868, and bottlers in Michigan were already calling themselves “pop companies” — after the sound the bottle made when opened. But the term “pop” holds steady here in Michigan, as other companies and states have adopted “soda.”
Michigan Every Day.
Meira Gebel, “What You Never Knew About Faygo“, Detroit Free Press, September 28, 2018. (Appeared in print newspaper on October 4, 2018.)
The Faygo Book / Joe Grimm. Detroit, Michigan : Wayne State University Press, . 135pp.