Faygo’s secret Rock & Rye recipe includes an incantation

Man in white lab coat and paper hap flaps towel over flavor mixing bag.
Harvey Lipsky, who came to Faygo as a young chemist and stayed for more than 50 years, was entrusted with the Rock ‘n’ Rye recipe.

“The Faygo Book” covers how Faygo made one of its all-time favorite flavors, the mysteriolicious Rock & Rye.

This is part of what I wrote in the book:

One of the top secrets was how to make rock ‘n’ rye. Even late into his career, founder Perry Feigenson mixed that one. In a 1969 Detroit News Magazine article Lipsky recalled, “One day when he was in his 80s and having a tough time climbing the stairs to the lab, he called me aside and said he figured it was time to learn the secret. I watched the mumbo-jumbo, which included waving a towel over the bottle, and I took notes. I analyzed the process and, being a chemist, figured I could duplicate the blend by modern methods. I worked on it several months, using the latest scientific steps. It smelled the same, it looked the same, but it wasn’t the same. I now make it his way—even waving a towel over the bottle. I never have figured out what that did to the blend.”

Joan Rayford, who heard “The Faygo Book” presentation at an Oakland County Mensa meeting, has a theory:

“Mr. Feigenson was a baker.  A ‘baking secret’ is to properly mix the batter to have sufficient air mixed in to ensure better dough rising.  Depending on the recipe, this mixing can be done by electric mixer, wooden spoon, wide or narrow spatula, by hand, with a fork, or even by tapping the bowl on the countertop to force extra air out before putting the batter into the baking pans.

“Another ‘baking secret’ is how long do you do this?  An experienced baker will do this by feel, or by counting, or ‘saying some mumbo-jumbo.”  I have some really old recipes I got from an immigrant friend of my grandma where the instructions include counting out loud.  If you look on the instructions for instant cake mixes they will say ‘beat at medium speed for 2 minutes’ or something similar.

“Waving a towel apparently is either another very slight mixing method, or when combined with the ‘saying some mumbo-jumbo’ a way to let the mixture set before moving on to the next step.  There are lots of baking recipes where the batter sits on the counter or goes into the refrigerator or freezer for a specific period of time before being baked.”

Bakers, what do you think? Is there a method to this mumbo-jumbo madness?

Published by

Joe Grimm

I wrote "The Faygo Book," published in October, 2018, after building up a tremendous thirst on my previous book with Wayne State University Press, "Coney Detroit." Since "The Faygo Book" came out, I have been traveling all over Michigan talking about Faygo, answering questions and hearing some wonderful stories about this great pop.