Cool things Metro Parent editors love and you gotta have
May 22, 2012
Made in Michigan: 11 Cool Family Products!
Celebrate Michigan Week with stuff kids and parents will love – from (actual) mittens and toys to food, beverages, handmade jewelry and other local goods
Michigan Week began back in 1954 as a time to celebrate all the wonderful reasons it's great to live in the Great Lakes state. The people behind the annual tribute at the state's economic development department decided to pick a time of year that highlighted all the beauty the mitten has to offer: spring!
Want to show off your Michigan pride? Here's a grab-bag of products made locally that can help you commemorate Michigan Week, this year held May 19-26, 2012.
So you won't need these in May (hopefully!), but Michigan Mittens will keep your hands warm in the wintertime and help you show off your state – right on your fingertips. One hand includes the Lower Peninsula and the other is the UP – so if anyone asks where your favorite spots are in the state (or where you're from), you can show them on your handy gloves. Adult and youth sizes available, starting at $24.95.
Sink your teeth into this batch of taste-tempting goods – all made here on home turf! Our food roundup features decadent Dave's Sweet Tooth Toffee, Better Made chips (the chocolate covered kind) out of Detroit and Chazzano Coffee from Ferndale – plus Simply Suzanne Granola and Beau Bien Fine Foods' delicious jams. Wanna get creative in your own kitchen? Try these three recipes featuring Michigan ingredients like Hudsonville Ice Cream, Sweet Sass sauce – and more of that yummy Simply Suzanne.
Got a pooch known for tearing up toys? This family-run business out of Royal Oak has you covered. Its namesake Unbreakoball – available in a standard 6-inch for about $18 or the "Big Daddy" 10-inch for around $30 – is a bright-orange ball crafted of non-toxic, high-density polyethylene plastic that's "indestructible" (they'll replace it if your dog still manages to destroy it!). The creators, who are also long-time humane pit-bull owners and advocates, offer various other U.S.-made treats on and toys on their site too.
Made in Michigan, you say? How about 60 different "makers" under one roof? That's exactly what you'll find at The Rust Belt Market in Ferndale. Think of it as a totally local spin on Etsy. Open every Saturday and Sunday, you'll find all things hand-crafted, vintage, repurposed and all-around cool – from kid accessories, steel creations and surf boards to jewelry, clothing, henna and candles. Not to mention tons of tasty grub, whether your scene's sweets or teas (or both).
They make the "most versatile, eco-friendly playhouse products on the market" – and they hail from our state's capitol city. Lansing guys Dean Thelen and Scott Flint's invention stemmed from watching their own kids transform a refrigerator box into the ultimate play fort. Each Easy Playhouse design – a classic house, cottage and the new castle – has two pieces, takes five minutes to assemble and costs just $40. Did we mention it's totally reversible? Double the fun!
Turn your barbecue into a griddle with this ingenious product invented and distributed by family-owned Little Griddle Inc. in Sterling Heights. The stainless steal flat griddles go on top of your regular barbecue grill, making shish kabobs, vegetables and even eggs easy to cook on your standard grates.
Taste a little bit of history with Faygo soda pop, which has its origins in Monroe. Two Russian immigrant brothers, Ben and Perry Feigenson, first created the fizzy concoction with cake frosting flavors. The original soda pop came in fruit punch, strawberry and grape. Today, you can get your Faygo in countless flavors – even pineapple watermelon!
Poor Anna's beloved bread-making spoon broke. Her hubby Wally's quest to make a replacement (and success!) led to this quirky quaint woodworking biz out of Camden, down near Michigan's Ohio/Indiana border. All crafted from cherry, this array of forks, spreaders, back scratchers, wok stirrers, trivets and, yes, spoons is all handmade and a bit unique (we fell for the clever violin cheeseboard with bow knife). With most offerings under $20, they're a darn good bargain, too.
Forget the wooden bird feeder. Why not use birdseed cakes, instead? Invented by the folks at Birdola in Grand Rapids, these convenient bird feeders are a self-contained "cake" you can purchase online or at major retailers like PetSmart and Meijer. Leave the bird cake outside your window so you can sit back and enjoy watching native wild birds come right to you. About $3.99-$8.49.
Rust Belt a bit of a hike for your fam? Check out this Etsy-style roundup of unique, hand-crafted products from some 175 mitten-state-based artists. Kicked off in early 2011, the site hosts a vast array of "homespun" goods, from purses, jewelry and beauty products to specialty foods, toys and art. Categories are tidily arranged and easy to navigate, and sales just require a PayPal account. Get inspired on the Handmade in Michigan Blog, too.
OK – at $22K, this find definitely tops our list in terms of tab. But a roundup of Michigan-made goods just wouldn't be complete without a mention of one of the state's signature products: cars. The newly redesigned Ford Mustang, made in Flat Rock, comes in a rainbow of colors, including "Gotta Have it Green" and "Race Red." And, of course, there are plenty of other Michigan-made cars and trucks in town to choose from!