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Pop history: New book covers 100 years of Faygo soda company in Detroit

"Remember when you were a kid? Well, part of you still is. And that’s why we make Faygo," goes an old jingle for one of Detroit's most iconic companies.  

Faygo was born on Detroit’s Eastside more than 100 years ago, and it remains a well-known pop brand in the United States today.

Joe Grimm is a journalism professor at Michigan State University and author of The Faygo Book

Grimm will be talking about The Faygo Book at the Hamburg Public Library on Tuesday, December 4 and at the Grosse Pointe Public Library’s Ewald Branch on Wednesday December 5.

He says that although people in the Midwest had been known to say “pop” instead of “soda” before Faygo’s advent, the company did play a role in making sure the term stuck.

“Faygo has been ahead of most any other company in insisting that we call it pop, and because of that, the Detroit area calls it ‘pop’ more frequently than any other part of the country,” said Grimm.

Faygo got its start in 1907 when Perry Feigenson, who was a baker at the time, called up his brother Ben and suggested they get into the pop-making industry. The first couple flavors their brand offered — including fruit punch, grape, and strawberry, better known as “red pop” — were made using frosting recipes. 

In the decades since then, Faygo has taken off, winning national awards for its orange and root beer flavors all while staying loyal to its original Eastside community.

But not every flavor was a winner for the Feigenson brothers. Grimm recalls one apple-flavored pop called “Eve” that flopped, and an unfortunate pineapple-orange flavor made with unpasteurized pineapple juice that exploded in the bottle.

“It was a big mess. It was busting out the lights in the factory. It was banned from Dearborn. They had to drive around and pick up all these messy, exploded bottles, and remake the pop then with pasteurized pineapple juice.”

Listen to Stateside’s conversation with Joe Grimm to hear more about how the Faygo brand expanded alongside Detroit’s growing population, and the long-term outlook for this iconic company as more and more people abandon pop for other beverages.

This post was written by Stateside production assistant Isabella Isaacs-Thomas. 

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