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Unveiling the Secrets of Vernors Ginger Ale

The Untold Truth About Vernors Ginger Ale

Vernors Ginger Ale is not just a popular brand of soda, but a cherished tradition in the state of Michigan and the Midwest. This fizzy drink has a rich history and has become part of the local culture. In this article, we will explore the untold truth behind Vernors Ginger Ale, from its origins to its unique place in Michigan’s identity.

The Making of Vernors Ginger Ale

Vernors Ginger Ale was created by James Vernor, a Detroit pharmacist who owned a pharmacy and soda fountain. With a desire to create tonics to ease digestion and stomach problems, Vernor experimented with spices, vanilla and ginger. The story goes that after returning from the Civil War, Vernor discovered a sweet and spicy ginger flavor in an oak barrel where he had been storing his mixture. This discovery led to the birth of Vernor’s Ginger Ale, a refreshing and uniquely flavored beverage.

Different origin stories

While the story of Vernor’s creation is well known, there are differing accounts of exactly how the recipe came to be. One version suggests that Vernor developed the recipe after returning from the war, with patent records indicating that the recipe was patented in 1880. Another version suggests that Vernor stumbled upon the distinctive flavor of Ginger Ale after storing it in an oak barrel during his time in the Civil War. Regardless of the exact origin, Vernor’s Ginger Ale quickly gained popularity and became a beloved beverage.

James Vernor’s Impact

James Vernor’s contributions extended beyond his creation of Vernors Ginger Ale. He was active in local Detroit politics, serving on the Detroit Common Council for 25 years. Vernor was known for his involvement in various developments and controversies, including his opposition to a public transportation plan that ultimately cost him his council seat. He also used his expertise in filtration systems to create a water filtration plant in Detroit, inspired by the concepts he used to bottle his fizzy drink.

Vernor’s Ginger Ale and Michigan’s Identity

Vernors Ginger Ale holds a special place in the hearts of Michiganders. It is deeply intertwined with the state’s identity and serves as a nostalgic symbol for those who grew up in Detroit or throughout Michigan. The drink evokes positive memories of childhood and simpler times. Its appeal lies in the sense of nostalgia it brings and the tradition of serving Vernors to settle upset stomachs that has been passed down from generation to generation.

Vernors Ginger Ale Beyond the Glass

Vernors Ginger Ale is not just a drink. It has found its way into many culinary creations. Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, even shared a recipe on national television using Vernors Ginger Ale as a key ingredient in her glazed ham recipe. In addition, Vernors Ginger Ale is used in a delicious dessert beverage called the Boston Cooler, which combines Vernors Ginger Ale with vanilla ice cream. The term “Boston Cooler” was commonly used in the early 1900s for drinks that combined soda and ice cream, and Vernors copyrighted the name in 1967.

Ownership Changes

Over the years, Vernors Ginger Ale has changed hands. The Vernor family owned the company for about 100 years before deciding to sell it in 1966. Since then, it has been owned by several multinational corporations, including A&W Beverages Inc. and Cadbury-Schweppes. Today, Vernors is owned by Dr Pepper Snapple Group, a subsidiary of Keurig Dr Pepper. Despite these ownership changes, Vernors Ginger Ale has retained its distinctive taste and loyal following.

Bottom line

Vernors Ginger Ale is more than just a brand of soda. It represents a tradition, a sense of nostalgia and a part of Michigan’s identity. From its humble beginnings in a Detroit pharmacy to its status as one of the oldest soft drinks in the United States, Vernors Ginger Ale has stood the test of time. Whether enjoyed for its unique flavor or used in culinary creations, Vernors Ginger Ale continues to be a beloved beverage that holds a special place in the hearts of many.


Vernors Ginger Ale was created by Detroit pharmacist James Vernor, who discovered its unique flavor after storing a mixture of spices, vanilla and ginger in an oak barrel during the Civil War.

How long has Vernor’s Ginger Ale been around?

Vernors Ginger Ale is considered one of the oldest soft drinks in the United States, with its recipe patented in 1880.

Is Vernors Ginger Ale only sold in Michigan?

While Vernors Ginger Ale has strong roots in Michigan, it is now available in many states and has grown in popularity beyond its original home.

Can Vernors Ginger Ale be used in the kitchen?

Yes, Vernors Ginger Ale can be used in the kitchen. It has been used in recipes such as Glazed Ham and the Boston Cooler, a delicious drink that combines Vernors with vanilla ice cream.

Has the ownership of Vernors Ginger Ale changed over the years?

Yes, ownership of Vernors Ginger Ale has changed. The Vernor family sold the company in 1966 and since then it has been owned by various multinational corporations. It is currently owned by the Dr Pepper Snapple Group.

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