Last week I was thinking about the soft drinks I remember from my childhood in St.Louis, and I started to remember tasting Vernor's, which at the time was unknown outside the Detroit area. I haven't had any Vernor's for a long time now, as the strong flavor was discontinued and I stopped finding it interesting or appealing to drink. However, I thought I would share my Vernor's memory with the bloggers who write about drinks each week at Elizabeth's blog Altered Book Lover.
Vernor's brand was founded by James Vernor in the 1860s, and has been in business ever since. However, the name and recipe has been sold a number of times, owned by several big bottlers and food companies, and changed to suit modern economy (read: cheaper ingredients) and tastes -- the details are boring.
I'm also aware that the apostrophe in the name Vernor's disappeared in 1959. When I looked for pictures of vintage Vernor's bottles and bottle caps on the web, I saw some easily identified bogus claims -- they were apostrophe-less, so couldn't have been as old as they were said to be. Collectors beware!
While the Sanders brand still exists, the original chain went out of business some time ago. Since then, the name and recipes have belonged to several different owners. Sanders' branded products are definitely still available in supermarkets: I'm thinking I should buy a bottle of fudge sauce!
Most people if they think of Detroit at all think of Motown music and the Detroit automobile industry. If you are an art lover, you'll probably have heard of the Detroit Institute of Arts. Fred Sanders and James Vernor invented their products far earlier than the invention of automobiles, the emergence of Motown music, or the founding of the museum. And of course there are other Detroit food and drink traditions, like Stroh’s beer or Cony Island diners — but these aren’t my thing.
Blog post © 2021 mae sander (no relation to the hot fudge, which has an S on the end).
Commercial images from the web.