The rare hot-air balloon Faygo bottle, by the dozens

Faygo balloon bottl
Don and Marilyn Ellison have two whole cases of the rare hot-air balloon Faygo bottles.
As I worked on The Faygo Book, I read about a one-of-a kind Faygo bottle that was brown and bulbous and was called a balloon bottle. It was embossed with a hot-air balloon.

Faygo balloon bottle
The balloon bottle, which featured an embossed hot-air ballon, held Faygo ginger beer.
Try as I might, I could not find one. All I could come up with was this bottle cap. Of course, I know a lot more now about he Metropolitan Detroit Antique Bottle Club, which I know could have helped me out then, as they have since the book came out.

When I presented the Faygo program at the Sterling Heights Library, Don and Marilyn Ellison brought something to show me. You guessed it. Not only did they have one bottle, they had two cases of empty ones at home. They are too smart to break up the sets and wonder what to do with the bottles.

I am connecting them with the bottle antiquers.

What a nice thing for Faygo to do

Driver holds an open Faygo Book, displaying the double signatures. He is wearing a red hoodie under a black Rip-It jacket.
Mike Wilder delivers Rip It for National Beverage Co., parent company of Faygo.
When Mike Wilder showed up before a Faygo Book talk at the library in Gladwin, Michigan, I knew something was up.

For one thing, he already had a Faygo Book. For another, he was wearing a jacket that said Rip It, a brand belonging to Faygo’s parent company, National Beverage Co.

Wilder asked if I would sign his book.

I asked where he had gotten it.

He said the company had given it to him for Christmas. I suspected as much and told him to look inside.

Sure enough. His book was already signed. Faygo had ordered 300 as gifts for employees, and I had driven to Wayne State University Press to sign them. This was one.

So, I signed the page a second time and wrote, “To Mike, the only guy who knows why this book has two signatures.” And now you know why, too.

Thanks, Mike. Thanks, Faygo.

Longtime Pepsi employee says Vernors deal clouded Faygo sale

Man stands in library with Faygo sign in background
Pepsi-Cola retiree John Young after a Faygo Book presentation at The Library of Michigan.
John Young, who said he worked for 38 years in quality control for Pepsi, shed some light on the quiet negotiations that led to the 1985 sale of Faygo to TreeSweet. It was sold in 1987 to National Beverage Company.

According to Young, “Of the companies bidding for the Faygo product, Pepsi was one of the last bidders, but the Faygo company refused to deal with them because they had previously got a 25-year franchise deal to produce and market Vernor’s product. I know this because I worked in the factory that Vernors ended up with.

John Young spent 38 years in quality control at Pepsi.

Faygo Rock ‘n’ Rye and Cold Duck: pour Detroit

You meet the most interesting people and hear the most interesting things on the “Faygo Book” trail.

Rock&RyeA woman at the Riverview Library reminisced about mixing Faygo Rock ‘n’ Rye with Cold Duck.

Others seemed surprised to the brink of shock.”What is Cold Duck?” It, like Faygo, is a Detroit drink.

Detroit Free Press reporter Zlati Meyer, who is in “The Faygo Book” for marveling that the company made kosher grape pop, told the Cold Duck story on March 25, 2012.

Meyer wrote that restaurateur Harold Borgman invented Cold Duck at the Pontchartrain Wine Cellars in downtown Detroit. The year was 1937, just two years after Faygo moved into its Gratiot Avenue home. Borgman mixed dry red California burgundy with New York sparkling wine.

He was experimenting with a German custom of adding champagne to the dregs of open wines from a party. Borgman called his concoction Kalte Ende, German for “Cold End,” but someone replaced the “D” with a “T,” giving us Kalte Ente, German for “Cold Duck.”

You can still buy it, unless you’d prefer to mix your own. Mixologists who combine Faygo Rock ‘n’ Rye with Cold Duck will have a pour that is pure Detroit.

The woman in Riverview declined to give her name and could not recall the proportions she used. She said she just kept adding and mixing until she achieved a taste she liked.

Prost!

Faygo leads you to the most interesting people

Signing books at At the Detroit Institute of Arts museum store on Dec. 27 turned out to be a great way to meet some Faygo people.
Honored to be asked to sign copies of The Faygo Book at the Detroit Institute of Arts’ museum store on Dec. 27. One of the people who stopped by was 99-year-old Dr. Oscar Paskal, who said he had dinner with Faygo President Mort Feigenson every Friday night in his later years.

Another person who stopped by was Patrick, a Faygo kid from way back who now teaches at-risk high school students in Madison, Wisconsin, and a woman who went to Cass Tech High School with a Feigenson and who studied journalism at the same time I did at the University of Michigan. Small, small world.