A couple of days ago, I pointed out that Detroit is a great food city because of its ethnic heritage. When I visit the Detroit area, I also stock up on some of the food items I cannot get elsewhere. So what do I personally stock up on when I am in Detroit? Here is my list:
- Awrey’s Long John coffeecake – Awrey’s is a bakery that began in Detroit in 1910. It has had some rough years, much like the city, closing its retail stores. Many of its products still exist, however, and are sold in a few grocery stores and from its factory outlet store. My favorite is the Long John coffee cake. It is a long dense coffee cake filled with walnuts and cinnamon, and topped with frosting. Yum. (Can someone tell me why it is so hard to get coffeecakes with nuts in other parts of the country?)
- Sanders "bumpy" cake - This is a chocolate cake with a fudge frosting and "bumps" of cream filling. It is very moist and chocolaty. I bought one of these and shared it with friends. It does not keep well, but I did freeze a couple of pieces for later.
- Faygo Redpop – Faygo is a soft drink company that began in Detroit in 1907. They sell a wide range of flavors and everyone has their favorites. I like their crème soda, but I really get a craving occasionally for Redpop! So I have stuffed a couple of dozen bottles into my storage compartments in my motorhome. Here is a link to interesting information about Faygo: http://www.faygo.com/
- Vernors Ginger Ale – Vernors is a very old Detroit company and it's sole product is considered to be the very first "ginger beer" sold in the U.S. It was created in 1866. The story is that James Vernors went off to fight in the Civil War and left a barrel of flavorings he had been experimenting with. When he got back from the war, he found the flavor had been improved. Vernors has a unique taste and is available in many places now because it was purchased by Pepsi. People who grew up in Detroit remember going to the Vernors store and having a “Boston Cooler” which is vanilla ice cream blended into Vernors like a milk shake. An interesting tidbit is that when I was growing up, parents gave us kids Vernors when we had an upset stomach! Here’s an article describing the “medical benefits” of Vernors: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/07/vernors-ginger-ale-soda_n_5281045.html
- Fresh kielbasa – In other parts of the country, you can get smoked kielbasa, but not the garlicky fresh stuff that is common in Michigan. It looks a lot like bratwurst, but has a lot more flavor because of all the garlic. I found some of what they call "holiday" kielbasa and have some of it frozen. The holiday version is a little more spicy and slightly more hot. You cook it just like you would cook bratwurst.
There are more things I could buy, like Sanders fudge sauce, but I have not had time for much shopping and do not have a lot of extra storage room.
If you are from Detroit, let us know in a comment what your favorite food products are.