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Michigan Brands Coupled for New Opportunities

by Lisa Diggs

They say opposites attract, though it's usually in reference to romantic entanglements.  This Valentine's Day we thought we'd take a look at some unique brand couples that are causing a stir.

Pickle Potato Chips

If you’ve ever gone to a great deli and allowed your sandwich, potato chips, and pickle to share the same plate, then you’ve undoubtedly experienced a chip soaked in pickle juice. To me, it’s always been a unique and delicious taste sensation, except that I don’t find the prospect of a soggy chip enjoyable. 

Well, perhaps the folks at McClure’s Pickles in Troy agree, as they have now created pickle-flavored potato chips! They didn’t do it on their own though. When you want to create a new product that captures the best your company has to offer, but also ventures into new, less comfortable territory, sometimes you need to turn to other experts. That’s just what McClure’s did, enlisting the support of legendary Detroit potato chip-maker, Better Made Snack Foods. The dynamic duo has created two versions that are currently on the market, Garlic Dill and Spicy Pickle.

Beer Battered Soap

Well, the soap isn’t actually battered in beer, but it’s made with it. Marmalade Hills, a maker of natural skincare products from Bloomfield, has created a Dark Ale Body Bar soap. They’ve substituted a rich Michigan beer in place of water, because the beer contains more naturally occurring sugar.

The brew of choice for this product is Oarsman Ale from Bell's Brewery in Kalamazoo. The result is a soap that has exceptional lather and inherited natural color. If you expect the suds to smell like suds, you may be in for a surprise. Every bar has a distinct sweet and spicy aroma since it combines a blend of four essential oils: sweet orange, dark patchouli, anise and cinnamon, and is topped with generously sprinkled allspice.

Chocolate Beer

Beer in soap may already seem like an unusual enough combination, but how about chocolate in beer? The brewmasters at Detroit Brewing Company began creating their craft beers back in 2005, and have made a name for themselves making award-winning hand-crafted lagers. Reportedly it was a small fluke though, that led to this unique and popular brewing sensation. 

In the fall of 2009, Detroit Brewing Company began tinkering with their Pub Classic Smooth Cream Stout in an effort to make the best stout available. A chance meeting, over a few beers, with the chocolatiers from Sanders of Clinton Twp., brought forth the missing ingredient. As a result, Detroit Brewing Company’s Sanders Chocolate Stout was born. This one-of-a-kind product is a dark ale, with the satisfying aroma and flavor of a fine stout and a restrained richness and elegance that comes from the hand-selected cocoa used by Sanders for more than a century. The stout has become a seasonal favorite that is available beginning around Thanksgiving for as long as supplies last.

Soda Pop Cupcakes

Michiganders have long turned to Detroit’s Faygo for flavorful sodas, commonly known throughout the state as “pop.”  Last year, the creative minds at Livonia’s Just Baked, a specialty cupcake and bakery shop, thought it would be a tremendously fun idea to use the famous flavors to infuse some of their cupcakes. They signed a special licensing agreement to use Faygo’s iconic name as well as its flavored syrups to create co-branded cupcakes. The pairing is a natural fit since Faygo’s flavors are actually based on frosting recipes. While more may be added, the tasty treats are currently sold in grape, orange, and red pop varieties.

Collaboration and creativity are two of the key forces that are revitalizing Michigan, as evidenced by these stories. If you come across other examples worth exploring, please post a comment here or send us an email (


*Photo of McClure’s Potato Chips by John Nathan Urbanek. 

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