McClure's PicklesYou might just think a pickle's a pickle. You'd be wrong. There are pickles and then there are McClure's pickles. Hand cut in their factory right here in Michigan (Troy to be exact), those juicy little spears are downright addictive. And if you're already a fan of these pickle peddlers you know it's all too easy to eat an entire jar in just one sitting. Their regular old restaurant-style variety are good enough (better than good enough, actually) but try one of their Garlic Dills –-amazing. Like something with a little more kick? Try their Spicy Pickles. Made with cayenne and habanero, they're bold and crunchy. Basically, you'll never want to settle for a Vlasic again. Oh, and they don't just offer cured cucumbers. They've also got relish and spicy bloody mary mix on their product list. Better than just making some darn good pickles, though, the brother behind McClure's buy as much local produce as possible.
Founded in 1992 by two dudes with the last name of Wolfe who just happen to love the wilderness (go figure, right?), this company has done nothing but expand in the decades that have followed. Now with six stores in Michigan, one in Illinois, one in Colorado and another in Massachusetts, they're not only a flourishing company that was founded in our very own Keego Harbor, they're also incredibly fun-loving, taking nothing seriously but the products they put on their shelves. And their product list reads everything from backpacks to jackets to rock-climbing equipment to snowboarding gear plus tantamount to everything else you might need to explore the outdoors. Their online store's been called one of the best by the New York Times, Outside magazine, Forbes and even CBS News, and with an added feature where customers can email in for dating advice, we don't think there's much to argue there.
Sometimes we forget that the best of the best in national brands are made right here in Michigan. And this fantastic cereal-making company is all too often one of them. Not only do they make the best range of the breakfast food (or lunch or dinner or midnight snack food), they also seem to come up with some of the most addictive varieties we've ever tasted (it's called Special K for a reason, right?) And cereal might have been their main focus when they opened their first factory back in 1906, but most of us know, they've expanded their horizons quite a bit since then. With everything from beverages to fruit snacks to bars to pastries to waffles and pancakes and syrups, you could fill your whole pantry with this Battle Creek-headquartered company's products. We just have one request, if anyone from HQ is listening, can we please get those Cinnamon Mini-Buns back?
Chuck & Dave's + Garden Fresh Salsa
Salsa is one of the great inventions of man. Versatile as an appetizer as well as a condiment, it transcends the pigeon-holing of other such Mexican-inspired before-dinner snacks, such as nacho cheese. Plus, it's super healthy for you, holding yet another one over on its aforementioned competition. But there are so many ways salsa can go wrong. Whether it's too watery, too ketchupy, too bland or so packed full of cilantro, you smell dirty for weeks. But what these two great brands founded right here in Michigan have managed to do with the freshest of local produce could very well be magic, especially considering our state could only be farther from Mexico if we traded spots with Alaska. With over 65 years with of experience combined between these two companies its more fact that opinion to say they've perfected their craft. They make salsa that makes us proud to speak spanglish. And call them our own.
These makers of industrial strength work clothes are well known for their ridiculously warm coats and undeniably sexy bib overalls found on construction sites the world over. But did you also know that they make a line of women's apparel as well? That they also have a streetwear collection? That they did a collaboration with Bathing Apes? That they donated thousands of articles from their line to rescue worker after 9/11? You probably didn't know all that, but you're also probably still thinking about those bib overalls. But if we could please have your attention back, we'd like to remind you that this company was founded 123 years ago in Dearborn, where its headquarters remain and where the descendents of its founder Hamilton Carhartt still own and run the company as a private venture. If that's not a Michigan-style success story, we don't know what is.
Little Caesars + Domino's + Hungry Howie's + Buddy's + Jet's + Cottage Inn
We've never been picky about pizza. There's sauce? There's dough? There's cheese? Sounds good. Now looking at this list of all the great pizza that started right here in Michigan, it's no wonder we've never had a bad slice. We've got too many companies making to-die-for pies to not order from some crappy national franchise –eh hem Pizza Hut eh hem. But not only are we home to some great chains, but we've also got an amazing variety of purveyors to choose from. Need a fix right now? Pick up a Hot-N-Ready from Little Caesars. Crazy for some thick crust. Call Jet's. Looking for something a little more healthy? Cottage Inn's got you covered. Need a two liter of Coca-Cola with your pie? It's in stock at Domino's. Must have flavored crust? Hungry Howie's offers 10 different varieties. A lover of Detroit-style pizza? Buddy's still uses their classic cast-iron pans for just one of our favorite kinds of pie.
Masters of cheese-making, coffee-grinding, bread-baking and sandwich-slinging, we're proud to call this Ann Arbor staple Michigan-made. In business for 30 years, this deli/bakehouse/creamery has attracted international acclaim and won awards for their mail order menu as well as their website. In addition to that trifecta of businesses, they also run Zingerman's Roadhouse where they serve American-style cuisine, Zingerman's Training and Zingerman's Catering. And even if they were only known for their food, we'd still count this Kerrytown establishment as one of our favorite state staples, but when you consider their ability to deliver great –no, the best customer service in an industry where that can be incredibly difficult (especially the hungrier people get) along with their efforts to fight hunger in Washtenaw County through their subsidiary Food Gatherers, well we couldn't be more proud to call them our own.
Great Lakes Coffee + Biggby + Paramount Coffee
When you think great coffee you don't always think Michigan, right? After all, our climate's got a couple more seasons than, say, Columbia. But what we seem to have pretty well covered in this state is the roasting of those precious beans. And, of course, when we say "we," we mean these three great companies that create some pretty amazing blends. The first two on our list also offer us some great little shops in which to enjoy their brews as well. Great Lakes Coffee just opened their flagship shop in Midtown and Biggby's got shops not just all over the state, but the country as well. While Paramount is sans a storefront, we wouldn't discount them as the lesser of these three, especially when you consider their altruistic ambitions. They participate in Fair Trade Rwanda and have a couple special blends that benefit a non-profit called Ele's Place as well as a very special coffee shop in Clare known as Cops & Doughnuts.
Detroit Popcorn Co. + Good People Popcorn
We always knew Detroit was known for cars, Faygo and to some extend being the birthplace of Madonna. However, it has recently come to our attention that popcorn is also a growing industry in our great state. And these two companies are at the forefront of that burgeoning business. Detroit Popcorn Co. offers everything you'll need to make your home into a movie theatre concession stand (sans ridiculous prices and floors covered in sticky puddles of soda) as well as ready-to-eat products like cotton candy, caramel corn, cheddar cheese corn, popcorn balls and a gourmet triple mix that's more addictive than bath salts. Our friends over at Good People Popcorn offer a different take on the starch. In their cozy little storefront in Bricktown, they serve fresh popcorn in flavors like bacon cheddar, chili cheese, caramel apple pie and chocolate drizzle as well as Michigan-made drinks like fresh-squeezed lemonade and Vernors.
Big 3 Automotive
General Motors, Ford and Chrysler. They're what we're known for and so much of who we are, not just as individuals, but as a region and a state as well. They're what defines us when we tell people where we're from and they're the first thing that comes to mind when we think of things that are made in Michigan. Though they suffered tremendously during the recent Great Recession, they're back on their feet and seeing better numbers than they have in years. With a number of great new models from hybrids to energy efficient SVUs, the Big 3 are also reinventing themselves, making them even more appealing to consumers who're looking not only to save money on gas, but lessen their carbon footprint. An ode of our love for these automobile assemblers could span several pages in the publication, but suffice it to say, many of us probably wouldn't be here, if it weren't for them.
Michigan Craft Beer
Now, we wouldn't be Real Detroit Weekly if we didn't mention that which makes us tick. Michigan Craft Beer. From the bitter and the hoppy to the light and the fruity, the ales, ciders, IPAs, pilsners and stouts, they fill not only the fridges in our office in addition to those in our homes, but our pride-swelled hearts as well. If you asked us to pick a favorite, we'd slap you. MillKing it, Atwater, Founders, Dark Horse, Arcadia, Dragonmead, they're just a few of the little darlings our state has to offer and there are many, many more. And they're growing at a rate that's almost unimaginable. When you enumerate all the amazing festivals surrounding this boom industry, like Summer Beer Fest, Winter Beer Fest and Michigan Brewer's Guild's Summer Beer Festival plus all the breweries that put on a great show of their brewskis every day of the week, well we're basically celebrating our state's beer on a daily basis.
Unlike the male physical anatomy, which seems to lack any sort of obvious focal point, there's hardly anything more beautiful than the naked body of a woman. Deja Vu's been celebrating that beauty for almost three decades now with tons of style and a heap of class. Treating customers as very special guests, creating a great party atmosphere and putting some of the best-looking ladies in Metro Detroit on stage are just some of the reasons this Michigan-based chain has made it to the big leagues of gentlemen's clubs. Headquartered in the historic Ypsilanti Art Theatre, this chain has locations all across the country, all courtesy of the company's handful of founding establishments that first became incorporated back in the 80's. With tons of specials, theme nights and events (Stripper Prom, anyone?) this isn't just one of our favorite clubs to frequent, it's one we're proud to call our own.
American + National Coney Island + Lafayette
The feud that still fuels the competitions between American and Lafayette Coney Islands its one that's kind of sad, kind of amusing and well-known to most who've ever stepped foot in Detroit. Brothers and partners in business, George and Gust Keros opened a Coney Island in 1914, had a fight and decided to split. Almost a hundred years later, the businesses still survive as next door neighbors on Lafayette in Downtown Detroit. Whether you're a fan of one or the other or hold a place in your heart for both, the history of these two restaurants that still survive in the city is one that adds just another dimension to Detroit. A relative newcomer to the Coney Island game, National was established in 1965. And while we're sure they've found competition with others of their ilk, have no arch nemesis as far as we know. What we do know is that those Hani's are beyond delicious.
Probably most well-known for their iconic Images of America series, this publishing company has 8,000 titles in their catalogue of printed materials, with hundreds more going to press each year. Focusing on historical material, they're something of a visionary in a world where print not only seems old-fashioned, but with the advent of e-readers, is quickly becoming archaic. But though binding paper to make books is quickly becoming a thing of the past, Arcadia has managed to at least make their efforts to build physical libraries a little more environmentally conscious. The first publishing company in the country to use 100 percent Forest Stewardship Council certified paper, they're leading the way for publishers to continue printing while shrinking their carbon footprint. Partners with Google and Alexander Street Press, it's no wonder their on the up and up when it in a field that seems to be dying little by little everyday.
St. Julian + Chateau Chantal + Leelanau Wines
Perhaps under-celebrate by us here at Detroit's Most Dangerous Weekly, are Michigan-made wines. Which is kind of strange when you consider how much we love the combination of drinking and anything made locally. These three companies have been in the wine-making business for quite some time, 155 years, collectively. St. Julian accounts for 91 of those years. Founder Mariano Meconi moved to Detroit after the repeal of Prohibition and later to Paw Paw to be closer to the Lake Michigan grape-growing region. His company's gone on to create award-winning wines year after year. Founded by a former Catholic priest and nun, the married couple now run Chateau Chantal. The winery's been around for 29 years, producing 15,000 to 20,000 cases every 12 months, plus they were the first in Michigan to produce Ice Wine. Leelanau's got 35 years of wine-making under their belt and they've been winning awards for their amazing wines for most of those years as well.
Achatz Pie Co + Astoria
You really need only utter the word "pie" to get our undivided attention. Add to that declarative anything about Astoria Bakery, and you've got us bated and hooked. Top that sentence with something about locally produced ingredients, and well, we're sitting in a puddle of our own drool. Achatz Pies have been gaining popularity at a speed that would be alarming if we weren't talking about delicious desserts that are made without chemicals, hydrogenated oil or preservatives. Making those mouth-watering filler-free fruit-filled from-scratch pies even better is the tried and true recipe the family has passed down from generation to generation that they use to create each and every confection. Astoria's been making hundreds of different sweet treats on a daily basis at the Greektown location since 1971. They've also recently added a Royal Oak location that makes any stroll down Main Street a practice in the art of self control.
Michigan maple syrup has been procured and refined since the days of the Native Americans and, in fact, we rank fifth in the United States in syrup production. If this is not a big deal to you, you either haven't tried pure Michigan maple...or you're just a big Log Cabin fan (GROSS!).
Faygo is no hidden gem around these parts – they've been around since 1907. And no matter your taste preference, there's a flavored soda that will quench your thirst. Our current fave? Check out Candy Apple.
Vernors and Towne Club are another couple fantastic beverage companies (Towne Club has been around since the 1960s and Vernors since the 1860s) that have roots deeply entrenched in Michigan history. There truly isn't a better ginger ale than Vernors, and we'll readily admit that we're suckers for Towne Club Michigan Cherry.
Frankenmuth chicken in Michigan is the equivalent of Mets vs. Yankees in New York. Are you a Zehnder's loyalist, or do you gravitate towards Bavarian Inn? In all honesty, it doesn't even matter – it's delicious and as addictive as crack cocaine either way.
Stroh's started brewing beer in Detroit in 1850, but they certainly didn't stop there – ice cream, soda, birch beer, non-alcoholic beer, etc. have all fallen under the Stroh's umbrella. Part of what built Detroit into an industrious giant, they have always been synonymous with the Motor City.
Better Made and Great Lakes Potato Chip Co. have shown that cherries aren't the only thing coming out of Michigan. Potatoes, spices, sensational and creative flavors (does it really get any better than Better Made's Rainbow Dark chips?) all add up to one thing: damn fine chips and snack foods!
Detroit Bike Co. boasts some of the coolest hand-crafted bikes you'll ever lay eyes on. But be sure to look for the acid-etched brass head badge – if it's not there, it's not DBC!
Made in Detroit has, unless you've been under a rock recently, been throughout the news (more specifically, Kid Rock vs. the Free Press) within the past six months for what, how and – most importantly – where the clothing line creates its products. But let's face it, the company has Detroit in its blood, its created jobs here, given money to local charities and – bottom line – it symbolizes the hard work and grit that the Motor City embodies. Who doesn't consider that to be Michigan made? (Not to mention, they make some of the most remarkable Frisbees right here in Westland. Do yourself a favor and check out Discraft next time you're going disc-golfing or heading to the beach or park.)
Mackinaw fudge is responsible for literally thousands of tons of extra girth around the midsections of Michiganders. The countless companies that make this sweet treat contribute so many flavors and happiness to our state, it's enough to knock you into a permanent sugar coma.
Sanders and Morley Candy are as Michigan-centric as it comes. The Woodward Ave. store in Detroit, opened in 1875, started metro Detroit's love affair with hot fudge, cream puffs and everything in between.
Velvet Peanut Butter – you know, the colorful jar with the freckle-faced kid on it – went out of business in 1985 (it had been around since 1937). But to everyone's good fortune, it has been revived and is back to making the world's best peanut butter – right back where it started!
Niki's Greek Dressing, by way of Niki's Greektown Pizza (which has been noted in GQ for its remarkable deep dish deliciousness), is likely one of the most popular and tasty salad dressings available anywhere – and you can get it right here in our backyard.
Germack Pistachio Company does more than just the shelled nuts. They've got coffee, seeds and other nuts. But, as evidenced by their name, they are known for their pistachios, and as the oldest roaster in the US, it's pretty hard to top this Eastern Market sensation.
Jiffy has been helping lazy housewives cook for over 80 years. (Just kidding!) A bevy of boxed baking mixes from Chelsea, MI has made it possible for families to enjoy the fresh taste of everything from cornbread to pancakes – and who could forget that little blue box?
Kowalski and Dearborn Sausage Companies have been providing the world with quality meats for 90 and 50 years, respectively. A long line of sausages, hams, franks and more have been at our disposal (and consumption) for as long as any of us can remember. Whether it's grabbing a couple stadium dogs or an Easter ham, none of us have to look too far for kowality.
Valentine and Hard Luck Candy Vodka are a couple of the fine purveyors of everyone's favorite booze – vodka – and also happen to be a couple companies who couldn't be any different. Hard Luck's deliciously flavored spirits (from Root Beer Barrel to Orange Dream) are a nice contrast to the purist ideals of Valentine's vodka. Enjoy both equally, Michiganders!
Calder's, Hudsonville and Guernsey Dairy Farms all offer some exceptional dairy products, but we're going to have to be up-front and honest here – it's pretty tough to beat their fantastic flavor array of ice creams. We're a sucker for a scoop or two in the summertime.
Art Van Furniture, La-Z-Boy and Herman Miller are three well-known names in the furniture and home interiors business. But people don't realize how big of a furniture-producing state The Mitten is. We've actually been producing furniture here since the 1840s. And now, you can stop at any of these great suppliers and get yourself a great end table or California King bedroom set. My, how the times have changed...
Franklin, Blake's and Yates Cider Mills are not only some of the loveliest orchards and apple-crafters around, they also have cider and donuts that we could easily consume by the pound. (Are we starting to sound like fatties yet? Don't judge us by our sweet tooth.)
Two Men and a Truck started two decades ago as an after-school business for a couple of high school kids – and now it's blossomed into an international company! Who'd have known that moving stuff could be so lucrative? Maybe we shouldn't be so frickin' lazy.
Fotula Lambrous Design and Morada Blue Swimwear are only a couple of the incredibly gifted fashion designers that we have in our fine state. From cutting-edge fashion to flattering designs that look great on any body style, these two ladies – Fotula Lambrous and Kat Johann – sure know what they're doing.
Tubby's was founded in St. Clair Shores, but it's grown to over 70 stores throughout the metro Detroit area. We could describe their submarine fantasticness in detail for you, but we'll do you one better – just get your ass over to one of their sub shops and get yourself a Tubby's Famous.
Gerber Baby Food may have started in tiny Fremont, MI (where the hell is that?) but it most certainly has grown into a juggernaut in what is arguably the most important industry in America – feeding babies. We most certainly wouldn't have grown up all big and strong – becoming Detroit's Most Dangerous Weekly – without generous helpings of strained peas!
Handmade Detroit is just as much a movement as it is a particular line of products. And let's face it, in tough times, people go back to creating things by hand (especially in a town that took a tumble due to our reliance on automation and industry, although that's a discussion for a different day) and appreciating quality. This spiderweb of indie crafters has been churning out beautiful products like it's nobody's business.
Olga's Kitchen has been crankin' out the Snackers, Olga Bread and spinach pies since 1970 (the Original Olga debuted in Birmingham), and whether or not we REALLY believe there was ever an Olga Loizon that the company is named after (we're kind of conspiracy theorists here at RDW), we can't argue with the fact that her legacy of delicious sandwiches is pristine.
Big Boy began with its first location way back in 1937 in Warren, but it's currently a national institution (and birthplace of the double-decker hamburger) all across the US. While they're famous for their burgers, we're pretty partial to the Slim Jim – but we're pretty sure you'll fall in love with their breakfast and fruit buffet (if you haven't already).
Win Schuler's, in an alternate reality, may have continued down its original path in Marshall, MI as a cigar store – which would have deprived us all of their beyond-delicious cheese offerings – but thankfully Albert Schuler, Sr. followed his love of food and developed his enterprise into a hotel, restaurant and (eventually) the scrumptious Bar Scheeze that we all know and love today!
Whirlpool is the global producer of home appliances, although they've kept their headquarters on the gorgeous west coast of Michigan. Need something from Maytag, KitchenAid, Jenn-Air or another great household appliance manufacturer? Well, those and more happen to fall under the umbrella of the Whirlpool company. Who says we don't have it all here in Michigan?!
BD's Mongolian BBQ can't claim to have come up with barbequing Mongolian-style, but they can say that they've built a Detroit-based, delicious and rapidly-growing company (currently in 13 states and one in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia – for realzies!) that allows you to create a delicious and completely your-own dish, cooked right in front of you. (Just take it easy on the Carribean Jerk seasoning, we've made that mistake one too many times.)
Meijer (or Meijer's depending on what part of Michigan you're actually from) has been revolutionizing the supermarket concept since 1934. Credited with being the first "supercenter" (in which you can buy broccoli, Sudafed, fish food and a coffee maker all in one place), Meijer still has half of its nearly 200 stores located here in its home state.
Entertainment Coupon Book has been serving up coupon mania since well before it was ever the batshit-crazy extreme couponing phenomenon on reality television. Since '62, they've been saving book-toting members half off pizzas and $4 off dry-cleaning (amongst gazillions of other great deals) – which reminds us, we haven't picked up our 2013 edition yet...
Pioneer Sugar and Big Chief Sugar are both parts of the Michigan Sugar Company, which has been helping us get our daily sugar fix since 1906. With four operating factories in the state and the fact that it's a cooperatively-owned company – by 1,000 sugarbeet growers – this is one "sweet" company (HAHA – did you see what we did there?!).
Honeybaked Ham and Koegel Meat Company are both goliaths in the delicious meats industry (that is a legit industry, right?). Koegel offers 16 types of hot dogs and sausages alone (they have almost 30 different meat offerings in total), and Honeybaked has over 400 stores under its care. If you're looking to fill yourself up with some great meat, these two most definitely shouldn't be ignored!
Printed publications in Michigan, ranging from dailies to monthlies to annuals and beyond. There are a few that stand out, and deservedly so. Where would the auto industry (and other big business in metro Detroit) have been for all these years without Crain's? And the craftiness and swank of Hour and StyleLine have managed to turn Michigan into a hip community, despite our conservativeness. And that spectacular alt-weekly Real Detroit Weekly? We hear they're Detroit's Most Dangerous Weekly!