Faygo Beverages, Inc.
FormerlyFeigenson Brothers Bottling Works
TypeSubsidiary
IndustryBeverages
FoundedNovember 1907; 114 years ago (1907-11) in Detroit, Michigan
FoundersBen and Perry Feigenson
Headquarters,
US
Products
ParentNational Beverage Corporation
Websitefaygo.com

Faygo Beverages, Inc., is a soft drink company headquartered in Detroit, Michigan. The beverages produced by the company, branded as Faygo or Faygo Pop, are distributed in the Midwestern, Mid-Atlantic, and Central Southern regions of the United States, as well as southern and western Canada. Faygo is exported to Europe by Keeptain Distrib, a French distributor, an official distributor of Faygo. Faygo Beverages, Inc., is a wholly owned subsidiary of the National Beverage Corporation and started in Detroit, Michigan, in 1907 as Feigenson Brothers Bottling Works.[1]

Flavors that are suggested for new products are approved by a committee that meets quarterly, which also remove low sellers off the market. The company's best seller is Red Pop.[citation needed]

History

The original logo used circa 1940
The original logo used circa 1940

Faygo was founded in Detroit, Michigan, in November 1907,[2] as Feigenson Brothers Bottle Works by Russian baker immigrants Ben and Perry Feigenson.[1] The original flavors of Faygo (fruit punch, strawberry, and grape) were based on cake frosting recipes used by the Feigensons in Russia.[1] Initially, the brothers used a horse drawn wagon for deliveries and lived above the bottling plant.[2]

The business grew over the next 10 years. The Feigensons were able to purchase houses, hire their first employee and a second wagon and horse for deliveries. More flavors were added including Sassafras Soda and Lithiated Lemon. They built a new plant due to their success on Beaubien Street in Detroit.[2]

In 1921 as the company expanded, they decided the brand name "Feigenson Brothers" was too long and changed it to Faygo.[2][3] The brothers bought their first delivery truck in 1922, and started home deliveries the following year.[4] New flavors in the 1920s were a vanilla flavored soft drink, a seltzer water, "Ace Hi" (similar in flavor to Nehi), and Rock and Rye (named after a Prohibition Era drink).[5][2] The company opened its currently operating bottling plant in 1935 on Gratiot Avenue in Detroit.[5] The company briefly entered into beer production.[6]

Reproductions built in the Muppets Workshop of the Wilkins and Wontkins muppets
Reproductions built in the Muppets Workshop of the Wilkins and Wontkins muppets

The brothers ran the company until the mid-1940s, when they turned it over to their sons.[1] In 1956, the company created a series of radio and television advertisements featuring a fictional cowboy called the Faygo Kid, who was portrayed in animation for television commercials for Faygo Old-Fashioned Root Beer.[1] Jim Henson's Muppets, Inc. produced a small series of ads for Faygo strawberry soda starring the Muppet characters Wilkins and Wontkins (best known as the spokes-characters for the Washington, D.C.-based Wilkins Coffee). Three ads are known to exist.[7]

Because the drink had a limited shelf life, the company sold its products only in Michigan until the late 1950s. Company chemists later resolved this issue by installing a filtration system to remove impurities from the manufacturing plant's water system.[1] In the 1960s, the soda's regional popularity expanded when the company began advertising during broadcasts of Detroit Tigers games.[1] With the Tiger ads reaching beyond the Faygo market area at the time and the inability to cancel the ads, Faygo shipped products to the wholesalers' warehouses. This increased company sales from $6 million in 1966 to $20.4 million in 1971.[2] Advertisements produced in the 1970s featured "everyday people" on a Boblo Boat singing the "Faygo Boat Song".[1]

The company introduced a low-calorie version in the 1960s called Ohana.[4] Faygo introduced diet versions of its line in the 1960s, this sub-line soon became a majority of company sales. In 1961, the Royal Line was launched as a premium product line. The Royal Hawaiian Pineapple Orange initial run's extract was not sterilized and became rancid, causing a buildup of gases such that, after hitting store shelves, the bottles exploded. The soda was recalled and Dole gave Faygo enough sterilized juice to offset the company's losses. Six other flavors also entered into production in the 1960s.[2] The original strawberry flavor from 1907[1] was renamed Redpop in the late 1960s.[2][8]

With Michigan's beverage container deposit law passed in 1978, Faygo thought people would prefer returnable cans instead of glass. With this choice being incorrect, the company had a hard time making the switch back to bottles, cutting into profits for several years.[2]

Assessing the industry and the second generation's pending retirement, the company was put up for sale.[2] TreeSweet Products Corp. bought the company from the Feigenson family in early 1986 for $105 million.[9] TreeSweet in turn sold the company to National Beverage Corp. a year later in 1987.[10] In the 1980s, they introduced flavored carbonated water.[4]

Faygo expanded in 1996 with a non-carbonated drink line, Ohana, which included punches, iced tea and lemonade.[2] In 2007, Faygo celebrated its 100th anniversary with a new flavor and contests for label design. Ten thousand entries were received and a fourth-grade Ohio teacher won with Centennial Soda.[1] In March 2014, the company introduced its ginger ale, Faygo Gold, rivaling cross town company Vernors' flagship drink.[11]

Reception

A Faygo delivery truck in Detroit
A Faygo delivery truck in Detroit

Faygo was ranked the best-tasting American root beer in the September 2009 issue of Bon Appétit, calling it "dry and crisp, with a frothy head, a good bite and a long finish".[12][13]

In popular culture

The Detroit hip hop group Insane Clown Posse references Faygo in several songs[14][15] and sprays live audiences with "Faygo showers".[15][16]

The 2020 song "Blueberry Faygo" by American rapper Lil Mosey from his second studio album Certified Hitmaker references the blueberry flavor of Faygo.

There are several references to Faygo in the webcomic Homestuck by Andrew Hussie in reference to the Insane Clown Posse.[citation needed]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Smith, Joel (March 2, 2007). "Faygo celebrates 100th birthday". The Detroit News. Retrieved October 30, 2008.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "History of Faygo Beverages Inc.". International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 36. St. James Press. 2001. Retrieved November 20, 2019 – via Funding Universe.
  3. ^ Anders, Melissa (April 28, 2013). "What's in a name? Here are the stories behind Biggby, Zingerman's, Founders, Faygo, Domino's". The Flint Journal. Retrieved April 28, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c Grimm, Joe, The Faygo Book (Detroit, Michigan: Wayne State University Press, 2018), 6-11.
  5. ^ a b Rouch, Lawrence L. (2003). The Vernor's Story: From Gnomes to Now. University of Michigan Press. pp. 34–. ISBN 0-472-06697-8.
  6. ^ Zadikian, John (October 11, 2019). "Faygo, Detroit beverage maker, remembered in storied history". Press and Guide. Retrieved November 21, 2019.
  7. ^ "Jim Henson Faygo Commercial". YouTube.
  8. ^ Bloch, Jim (March 28, 2019). "Pop history: Detroit export Faygo turns 107". The Voice. MediaNews Group. Retrieved November 21, 2019.
  9. ^ Lazarus, George (February 19, 1986). "TREESWEET BUYS SOFT-DRINK FIRM". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
  10. ^ Bovee, Tim (February 19, 1986). "Faygo Sold to National Beverage Corp". Associated Press. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
  11. ^ Lacy, Eric (March 14, 2013). "Detroit's Faygo unveils new 'Gold' flavor; it appears to rival another popular brand with city ties". Mlive Detroit. Mlive Media Group. Retrieved November 21, 2019.
  12. ^ "root beer". Bon Appétit. Vol. 54, no. 9. September 2009. p. 26.
  13. ^ Rector, Sylvia; Powers, Nancy Chipman (August 28, 2009). "What's going on: Faygo Root Beer ranked No. 1". Detroit Free Press. Archived from the original on July 2, 2013. Retrieved February 15, 2015.
  14. ^ Dominic, Serene (October 29, 2008). "(Not) just a juggalo". Metro Times. Retrieved October 30, 2008.
  15. ^ a b Brant, Marley (2004). Tales from the Rock 'n' Roll Highway. Billboard Books. pp. 43–52. ISBN 0-8230-8437-X.
  16. ^ Sunderland, Mitchell (April 30, 2015). "Tears of a Clown: The American Nightmare That Created the Insane Clown Posse". Vice. Retrieved April 30, 2015.