Fun at Detroit’s Noel Night

Thanks to people who came out to see us at St. Patrick’s on Detroit’s Noel Night. It was great to have so many new friends and old ones in the senior center. Four Detroit newspaper people had a bookish reunion at the center. Susan Whitall and Bill McGraw in front, Joe Grimm and Patricia Montemurri in back. Shoutout to John Bentley who took care of logistics. Photo by Michael Whitty

Michigan Gov. Whitmer is a rock ’n’ rye fan

2019 MNB Governor Whiter_4 (1)

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, clutching a bottle of rock ’n’ rye, hosts 2019 Michigan Notable Books authors in her Capitol office. At left are Wayne State University Press author Joe Grimm with “The Faygo Book,” and Mitch Lutzke, author of “The Page Fence Giants: A History of Black Baseball’s Pioneering Champions.” At right is WSU Press double winner Anne-Marie Oomen, co-author of “Lake Michigan Mermaid: A Tale in Poems” and editor of “Elemental: A Collection of Michigan Creative Nonfiction.”

He won a free Faygo Book six-pack

Two boys, one holding a six-pack of bottles, with book author.
Jamison won a six-pack of classic glass bottle Faygo, courtesy of Th Faygo Book, by drawing the lucky number at the Holly Library.

The Faygo Book has six pop quizzes and we almost always have fun with one at a Faygo Book talk. But we don’t give prizes!

On Oct. 14 at the Holly Township Library, however, The Faygo Book awarded a six-pack of classic Rock & Rye to Jamison. All he had to do was pick the winning number. I bet he shares with his brother, Stephen. Nice guys.

The people at the Holly Township Library are first class. I loved their Michigan room and bought some handmade cards to support the Friends of the Library.

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?