Michigan continues to be home to many of the world’s most recognized, respected and sought-after brands. So, we decided to start 2018 out by assembling our new list of iconic made-in-Michigan brands because we had so much fun writing the last one. Some have been around for more than a century, while others are relatively new on the scene. But, whether it’s for eating, drinking, sitting in or on, wearing, or hiring, here are some brands we think you’ll recognize.
Here's our list of nine iconic Michigan Brands:
1. Vlasic Pickles
2. Gerber® Baby Food
4. Bon Bon Bon
5. Herman Miller, Inc.
7. Bell's Brewery, Inc.
8. TWO MEN AND A TRUCK
9. Stormy Kromer
1. Vlasic Pickles
America’s favorite pickle brand, Vlasic is the brainchild of Polish immigrant Frank Vlasic, who came to this country in 1912. While working for $2 a day in an automotive foundry, he saved enough money to start a creamery in Detroit; selling cheese, milk and eventually … you guessed it …pickles! They were so popular that production was expanded to Imlay City and, within 20 years, the brand was a national favorite. The iconic Vlasic stork arrived on the scene in 1974, giving birth to the slogan, “Vlasic is the best tasting pickle I ever heard.”
2. Gerber® Baby Food
It is likely that no face on Earth is as instantly recognized as the Gerber® baby, and the name itself is synonymous with baby food. Born as the Gerber Products Company in 1928, the Fremont, Michigan-based company was created by Dorothy Gerber who wanted a better, faster way to make her daughter’s baby food. The family business was canning, and husband Dan Gerber soon found that making baby food was easily done in the canning plant. Before long, Gerber’s products were on store shelves nationwide — and Gerber has remained an international leader in developing exceptional baby food products.
From rail to farm to construction, the Carhartt® brand represents the best in durable, comfortable, high-quality workwear. Founded in 1889 as Hamilton Carhartt & Company, Hamilton “Ham” Carhartt grew the company — from two sewing machines in a tiny Detroit loft, to one of the nation’s go-to brands. Barely weathering the Great Depression, Carhartt® survived to supply military uniforms for the U.S. Army, jungle suits for Marines in the Pacific theater, and workwear for all the women at home who took over the work in factories and on farms. Today, Carhartt® is a strong international anywhere quality work clothing is.
4. Bob Bon Bon
Fast becoming an international chocolate phenomenon, Bob Bon Bon (makers of bonbons!) began in 2014, the love child of chocolatier Alexandra Clark. Starting in a hole-in-the-wall Hamtramck location, the business was only open to the public only on Saturdays. By 2017, the company had expanded to a 3,000-square-foot production facility/kitchen/retail space (also in Hamtramck). Touted by the likes of Bon Appetit, Food & Wine Magazine, Tasting Table, and Martha Stewart, Clark earned spots in Crainʼs “20 in their 20s” and Forbes Magazine named her “The Best Pastry Chef Under 30.” So, next time you’re in Detroit, plan a visit and and try some of the most original, unique, beautiful, and delicious bon bons ever. It’s nice to know Michiganders continue building new iconic brands to change the world!
5. Herman Miller, Inc.
When it comes to furniture, Herman Miller is so iconic that few in the industry today can even come close. Beginning in Zealand, Michigan in 1905 as the Michigan Star Furniture Company, Herman Miller became renowned not only for modern comfort and durability, but for innovative designs that rendered many pieces works of art, and icons in their own right. With designers like George Nelson, Charles and Ray Eames, and Isamu Noguchi, Herman Miller has created an international furniture brand that for more than a century has never ceased to inspire. Stronger than ever today, the company has manufacturing facilities worldwide and offers several brands specializing in different markets, but maintains its headquarters in Zeeland, where it’s roots are deep.
Only a few years old, Shinola may seem like a babe in the Detroit woods, but it is a driving force in bringing the high quality manufacturing back to the city, and to our country. Through meticulous training and a commitment to being the best of the best, Shinola artisans create watches, jewelry, leather accessories, and yes, even bicycles. Even as technology thrusts us forward at an alarming rate, Shinola puts “skill, the preservation of craft, and the beauty of industry” above all else. In a very short period of time, Shinola has become a rising star in Michigan — and around the world.
7. Bell’s Brewery, Inc.
Barely a week goes by that we don’t hear about a new craft brewery opening or expanding in Michigan, but there’s one that’s been around more than 30 years and that’s Bell’s Brewery. The Kalamazoo-based brewer began as a homebrew supplier in 1983 with Larry Bell at the helm. By 1985, Bell was doing his own brewing and had sold his first commercial product. Just four years later (1989) Bell’s was shipping 500 barrels a year. Certainly one of Michigan’s most iconic brands, Bell’s remains completely family-owned and committed to great beer with respect for the environment and the community. Let’s raise a pint (of Amber Ale, Kalamazoo Stout, or Oktoberfest) to Bell’s.
8. Two Men And A Truck®
More than 30 years ago, a Michigan mom helped her two teenage sons earn money by helping local people with moving. Now that summer startup, TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®, has almost 400 franchise locations across the globe, including 43 U.S. states. More than just a moving company, TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® is committed to inclusion, to giving back, to being their best, and to treating others like they would want their grandma treated. One of the most trusted moving companies in the industry, the name TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®, and the childlike pencil drawing logo resonate with people across the state and the country as the go-to-guys when moving help is needed.
9. Stormy Kromer®
Although born in Wisconsin, Stormy Kromer®, producer of the legendary line of hats and caps, was about to go under when it was rescued and moved to Ironwood, Michigan. First created in 1903 for railroad man George “Stormy” Kromer by his wife Ida, the hat line celebrated 114 years in 2017. Iconic in name, style, and durability, the Stormy Kromer line continues to grow in popularity. And as the Michigan winter winds continue to howl, few hats can compete for warmth and style.
Michigan brands of the future
We love celebrating Michigan brands (especially when we're drinking an Oberon), but we really shine when we're building Michigan brands. If you're working on dreaming up and building a brand that truly resonates with your market, we should talk.