Friday, February 17, 2012

Deliciously Different

Deliciously Different... that's the 1921 marketing slogan used by James Vernor for his ginger ale.  Talk about truth in advertising!

If you grew up in Michigan, you probably asked for Vernors rather than just a plain ol' ginger ale.  You really didn't want another ginger ale. Is there another ginger ale?

Woody the Vernor's Gnome featured on the Vernor's sign.
According to legend, prior to the American Civil War, James Vernor, a drugstore clerk in Detroit, attempted to duplicate a popular ginger ale imported from Dublin, Ireland. When Vernor was called off to war, he stored the syrup base in an oak cask. After returning from battle four years later, he opened the keg and found the drink had changed by the aging process in the wood. He had never tasted anything like it and declared it "Deliciously different."

Great story huh? Well, it's just that... a story. In a 1936, Vernor's son suggested that the formula was not developed until after the war. This was confirmed in a 1962 interview with a former company president.

A few true facts: Vernors is the oldest surviving ginger ale sold in the United States; until the late 1980s, Vernors was a regional product (Vernor sold franchises throughout Michigan and in major regional cities such as Toledo, Cleveland and Buffalo).

Even as a national brand, Michigan accounts for 80% of Vernors sales. Michigan, Ohio and Illinois are the highest-selling states. It is also popular in Florida, which has large numbers of retired or relocated former Michigan residents. Vernors is a Michigan thing!

For years, the Vernors headquarters on Woodward Avenue in Detroit offering tours which ended in a soda shop where Boson Coolers* were a specialty.  I recall my mother talking about visiting her sister in Detroit and going to the Vernor's plant.

I've looked at other ginger ales, but Vernors is my only choice.

Somewhere through the years, Vernor's became Vernors.

(*Boston Cooler: Vanilla ice cream blended with Vernors Ginger Ale)

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