Students get tastes of Michigan & healthy helping of history

Josh Thaler pours Vernors for his third-grade students

Third-grade students at Lee Elementary got a “Taste of Michigan” in celebration of their home state’s 182nd birthday.

Danielle Nowinski explains the history of Indian Summer juice, based in Michigan

An annual lesson for the past five years, the activity is a fun way to introduce elements of the social studies curriculum, teacher Danielle Nowinski said.

“We always do this lesson around January 26, Michigan’s birthday,” Nowinski said. “It’s a fun way for students to learn about Michigan’s economy and a great way to get kids excited about all our state has to offer.”

Students tasted food from Michigan businesses, like Little Caesars Pizza, Vernors ginger ale, Faygo pop and Kellogg’s cereals.

Here are some fun facts students consumed, along with samples of foods from the mitten state:

  • Kellogg brothers John and Will discovered how to produce Corn Flakes by mistake.
  • Mike Ilitch, founder of Little Caesars Pizza, purchased the Detroit Red Wings, the Detroit Tigers, Fox Theatre and the basketball-hockey-entertainment venue Little Caesars Arena.
  • Vernors soda pop was invented by James Vernor, a Detroit pharmacist. According to company history, Vernor had concocted a new drink but was called off to the Civil War in 1862. He stored his secret mixture in an oak cask in his pharmacy. Four years later, when he returned from the war, he opened the keg and found the drink inside had aged into the ginger ale drink that is now Vernors.
  • Faygo pop was started near Detroit in 1907. Today, the company makes more than 50 flavors including Peach, Blues Berry, Cotton Candy and Moon Mist Blue.
  • Michigan grows more than 50,000 pounds of spearmint per year.

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Hannah Lentz
A 2017 graduate of Grand Valley State University and a lifelong teacher’s kid, Hannah Lentz has worked as a journalist in and outside the Grand Rapids area for more than five years. After serving as editor-in-chief at the GVSU student newspaper, Hannah interned at the Leelanau Enterprise where she learned a lot about community journalism. In addition to her work for School News Network, Hannah has worked as a freelance blogger in the furniture industry, focusing on design trends, and as a social media manager for World Medical Relief in Detroit. Read Hannah's full bio.

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