Do you have a favorite dish — or dishes — from MichiganCafé? With a diverse menu ranging from Falafel Dogs to Corktown Burgers, it may be hard to choose just one! If you’re in the mood for some Detroit-inspired recipes, try two of our most popular Café selections featuring unique tastes of Detroit: Vernors Ginger Soda and Better Made Potato Chips.
Vernors Cake 1 12-ounce can Vernors Ginger Ale 6 ounces unsalted butter, softened (let sit at room temperature) 1½ cups sugar 2 eggs ½ teaspoon vanilla extract ½ teaspoon ground ginger 1½ cups flour
Heat oven to 350 F. Empty Vernors into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce by at least half, so ginger ale is syruplike. This should yield ¼ cup of syrup for the cake batter, plus extra for brushing on top. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Combine eggs and vanilla in a separate bowl and add slowly to the butter mixture. Combine ground ginger and flour in another bowl and add alternately to the batter with ¼ cup of Vernors syrup.
Bake in a paper loaf pan or cupcake pan with liners for 30 minutes. Yields 8 loaves.
Brush with reserved Vernors syrup while warm. Cool completelybefore serving. Top with vanilla icing.
Looking for more Vernors recipes? Try this 1950 recipe book from our digital collections.
Better Made Chicken Tenders (gluten free) 1 pound (about 12 pieces) chicken breast tenderloins Salt and pepper 1½ cups gluten-free all-purpose flour 2 eggs, beaten with ¼ cup water 2 cups crushed Better Made Potato Chips
Arrange chicken tenders on a sheet pan and pat dry with paper towel. Season with salt and pepper. Place the flour, beaten eggs and chips in separate bowls. Dredge tenders individually in the flour, shaking off excess. Then dip floured tenders in egg wash and finally coat with crushed chips. (Can be made a day ahead to this point and refrigerated.)
When ready to eat, heat frying oil to 350 F. Gently place breaded tenders into oil and fry until they are golden brown and reach an internal temperature of 165 F (about 4-5 minutes).
It was my privilege to take over The Henry Ford’s Twitter feed for a while on the morning of May 14. Our theme for the day was "Be Empathetic." To me that means "be helpful and supportive," and those attributes remind me of early auto organizations like the Automobile Club of Michigan, founded in 1916. The Automobile Club of Michigan is one of several regional organizations that joined the American Automobile Association. Over the years, AAA’s work has included advocating for better roads, providing roadside assistance to stranded motorists, encouraging traffic safety generally – particularly near schools, and promoting tourism and travel by car throughout the United States. During my Twitter session, I shared several AAA items in the collections of The Henry Ford.
To the Rescue on the Road
THF103500 / Pamphlet from AAA of Michigan, "Emergency Road Service Guide," June 1951 / front
AAA began offering emergency roadside service in 1915. This 1951 pamphlet lists affiliated service garages throughout Michigan.
THF333431 / 1947 Ford Repair Truck at the Ralph Ellsworth Dealership, Garden City, Michigan, October 1946
This photo shows one of the AAA-affiliated wreckers that might've come to your aid in the late 1940s or early 1950s. In this case, it's a 1947 Ford.
THF304296 / Toy Truck, Used by James Greenhoe, 1937-1946
Children could play their own "roadside assistance" games with a toy truck like this one, made circa 1940.
Keeping Children Safe
THF153486 / Automobile Club of Michigan Safety Patrol Armband, 1950-1960
Speaking of children, one of AAA's most important initiatives is its School Safety Patrol program, established in 1920.
THF208042 / Music Sheet, "The Official Song of the Safety Patrol," 1937
Safety patrollers help adults in protecting students at crosswalks, and in bus and car drop-off and pick-up zones. Their dedicated efforts were celebrated in "Song of the Safety Patrol" from 1937.
THF289667 / Detroit Police Officer Anthony Hosang Talks with Safety Patrol Students on a Tour of the Ford Rouge Plant, May 10, 1950
Here's a group of Detroit safety patrol members in 1950. They're listening to police officer Anthony Hosang as a part of a tour through Ford's Rouge Plant – a reward for a job well done.
Reaching Your Destination
THF104025 / "Official Highway Map of Michigan," Automobile Club of Michigan, 1934
AAA also helps drivers find their way by publishing road maps. Here's one showing the Detroit metro area in 1934. Many of the highway numbers are familiar, but their routes have changed.
THF136038 / Log and Map of Automobile Routes between Detroit-Gary and Chicago, 1942
Here's a map of routes between Detroit and Gary-Chicago in 1942. The northern-most route (then U.S. 12) parallels modern I-94.
THF151706 / Automobile Club of Michigan, "Know Michigan Better, Stay Longer," Sign, 1950-1960
AAA also promotes tourism, encouraging drivers to explore America – and their own states. Residents can "know Michigan better," and visitors can "stay longer."
THF14793 / Travel Brochure for Holland Michigan, circa 1940
Springtime brings tulips, and what better place to enjoy them then Holland? (Holland, Michigan, that is.)
Here's a AAA guidebook promoting travel to Michigan's northern Lower Peninsula.
THF9103 / Host Mark Magazine, "Greenfield Village & Henry Ford Musem, A Bicentennial Site," 1976
And here's a familiar sight on the cover of AAA's Host Mark magazine. It's Greenfield Village, where bicentennial celebrations were underway throughout 1976.
It was great fun sharing these pieces with our Twitter followers. I also enjoyed answering some questions about our wider transportation holdings along the way. “Be Empathetic” – it’s an important lesson anytime, but especially right now.
Matt Anderson is Curator of Transportation at The Henry Ford.
An early version of Kermit the Frog appeared in Henson’s Sam and Friends TV puppet show, but Kermit became a breakout star during The Muppet Show. THF304042
It’s hard to believe that May 16, 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of Jim Henson’s passing. His influence can still be seen in so many places: on-demand TV shows, movies, and specials; related books, toys, games, and other merchandise; and modern-day puppets, puppet performances, and puppeteers.
In his lifetime, Henson’s titles included puppeteer, writer, director, producer, and entrepreneur. But titles can be misleading because he was so much more than these. A brilliant innovator, he continually questioned the status quo, broke boundaries, and experimented with new ideas. By stretching the known capabilities of both puppetry and the medium of television (and, then, of motion pictures), he created a new art form. And, in the process, he inspired us—the viewers—to use our imaginations, to take ourselves less seriously, and to treat others with greater tolerance.
Jim Henson (born 1936) was drawn to the arts at a young age, including an early fascination with puppetry. When he entered college, he thought about majoring in fine arts. But he found—buried in the course list of the home economics department at his school—a class on puppetry. So, even though most of the students majoring in home economics were females learning domestic skills for future homemaking, he decided that would be his major.
Henson was inspired by early radio and TV puppets, including Charlie McCarthy, a “cheeky” boyish dummy voiced by ventriloquist Edgar Bergen.THF106436
As a freshman in college, Henson developed his own TV puppet show called Sam and Friends, which appeared briefly twice each evening. While working on this show, Henson started questioning many long-standing puppetry traditions. Why not, for example, use the entire frame of the TV screen as the actual puppet theater stage rather than bringing a separate puppet stage into the TV studio? Wouldn’t it follow, he then asked, that the puppet operators could work from off-camera rather than appearing to viewers on the screen?
Henson moved from there to questioning the puppets themselves. Why not make them more lifelike, with flexible fabric-covered foam rubber rather than the traditional carved wood? Why not use rods to move their arms—rather than the more traditional strings—to give them greater flexibility? Why not make the puppets’ mouth movements more precise to match their dialog—enhancing their believability and letting their full range of emotions be conveyed through words as well as actions? Finally, why not give the characters distinct personalities? Better yet, imbue their personalities with whimsy, playfulness, and humor. As Henson continued to refine his ideas and his characters, an entirely new kind of puppet was born—part puppet, part marionette, and all Henson. He called his new creations Muppets.
During his early career, Henson studied the artistry of traditional wood-carved marionettes when he spent time in Europe. THF38105
The publicity that Henson gained with his Sam and Friends show led to his invention of a host of new Muppet characters for a range of TV commercials. By this time, the 1960s, it seemed that people were coming to appreciate humor, irony, and satire more than the serious “hard sell” that had been the norm.
Adding life-size Muppets like Big Bird to the regular cast of Sesame Street increased the show’s popularity. THF97451
Though he was initially reluctant to collaborate on a TV show aimed specifically at kids, Henson experienced their first major breakthrough with Sesame Street, which premiered in 1969 (for more on Sesame Street, see this post).
But Henson’s greatest claim to fame came with The Muppet Show (1976-81)—produced in England because American TV networks wrongly assumed that Muppets would just appeal to kids. Hosted by his somewhat “bolder” alter-ego, Kermit the Frog (whom he controlled and voiced), this show introduced millions of viewers to Henson’s unique blend of humor and imagination. The Muppet Show would go on to air in more than 100 countries, win several Emmy awards, and lead to several spin-off motion pictures.
The song “Rainbow Connection,” first written to provide depth and humanity to Kermit the Frog’s character for the 1979 film, The Muppet Movie, has gone on to become a sort of Muppets anthem. THF182956
Jim Henson went on to contribute his talents and ideas to new fantasy/adventure films, most famously aiding in the creation and articulation of Yoda for the 1980 film, The Empire Strikes Back. He tried his hand with a few of his own fantasy/adventure films, including The Dark Crystal (1981) and Labyrinth (1986)—both of which were destined to become cult classics. He also created two additional popular TV series—Fraggle Rock (1983-87) and the Saturday morning animated show, Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies (1984-91). Just before his passing, Henson worked with The Walt Disney Company to develop the themed attraction, Muppet*Vision 3D at Walt Disney World.
Fraggle Rock characters Wembly and Boober in a pickle-shaped vehicle from a 1988 McDonald’s Happy Meal promotion.THF308672
Inspired by a flashback sequence in the film, The Muppets Take Manhattan, Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies were represented in the McDonald’s 1994 Happy Birthday Happy Meal promotion.THF319291
Today, Jim Henson’s Muppets delight children of all ages. Henson once claimed that, with puppets, you can deal with subjects in a way that isn’t possible with people. The Muppets may not be people, but they certainly reflect who we are as people, providing a mirror to our thoughts, hopes, and dreams.
Jim Henson had plenty of his own dreams. He wanted to make a difference in the world, to change people’s lives in positive ways—through laughter, delight, and imagination. Henson once said that, “I decided that there are many situations in this life that I can’t do much about: acts of terrorism, feelings of nationalistic prejudice, cold war, etc. So what I should do is concentrate on the situations my energy can affect.” Wise and timeless words for the times we live in today!
Appearing in short segments on Sesame Street, ultra-serious Bert and fun-loving Ernie demonstrate to kids that good friends can be tolerant of each other’s differences. THF309817, THF309818
During his lifetime, Henson was deeply committed to encouraging, mentoring, and recognizing the talents of a new generation of puppeteers. In 1982, he established the Jim Henson Foundation to promote and develop puppetry in the United States. Today, the Jim Henson Foundation’s web site is the go-to place to find out what’s happening in contemporary puppet theatre and currently features extensive listings of online puppet shows to “help people collectively navigate the COVID-19 Health Crisis.” Instructions for making your own puppets are included here as well. Through his efforts, and those of his family who carry on his vision, Jim Henson’s legacy has ensured that puppetry is no longer relegated simply to home economics classes but has become a highly respected art form.
Jim Henson and his legacy live on, through Muppet programs and specials; Muppet operators and performers; those who have cherished memories of growing up with Muppet characters and pass these on to younger generations; new audiences who have discovered the old classic characters and shows; and the modern-day puppeteers Henson has inspired.
At a special tribute by the Muppets for Jim Henson back in 1990, Robin the Frog (Kermit’s nephew) remarked that, “Jim Henson may be gone, but maybe he’s still here too, inside us, believing in us.”
I like to believe this is true.
Donna R. Braden is Curator of Public Life at The Henry Ford.
Additional Note: Just down the road from The Henry Ford, The Detroit Institute of Arts recently brought out on exhibit a 1969 version of Kermit, donated to them by Jim Henson himself in 1971. See more here.
Matzoh ball soup, slices of challah, and Dr. Brown’s black cherry soda: our recreation of a post-Broadway-show meal at Junior’s in Times Square
My family and I had just returned from a week at Walt Disney World in early March, where the crowds were thick and frequent handwashing was all that was yet advised. But two days after our return, the first two cases of COVID-19 were reported in Michigan, and things spiraled quickly after that. On Thursday of that week, March 12, we were sent home from The Henry Ford, as the museum closed its doors to safeguard against further spread of the virus.
Over the next few weeks, everything turned upside down, as those of us who could worked from home—connecting virtually with colleagues, carving out workspaces, and getting used to our families being around. Beyond this, the distractions were constant. We were shocked—sometimes even paralyzed—by the daily news of shutdowns, cancellations, and the rapid spread of the virus. Southeast Michigan appeared to be especially hard-hit.
As was New York City—the place to which my daughter, Caroline, and I were supposed to be heading in mid-April.
This would have been our sixth annual trip to New York City. It started when Caroline (as the Accessibility Specialist at The Henry Ford) wanted to observe the many programs offered at museums there for the different audiences with which she works. Having been to New York City several times myself, I offered to help her navigate the city—with the added bonuses of checking out some museums we had never been to, visiting my high-school friend in Brooklyn, and sampling the amazing food that the city has to offer—especially, for me personally, returning to my roots and getting some of the best Jewish food around. Sure, and along the way, visiting such icons as Times Square (maybe taking in a show), Grand Central Station, and Central Park. This time of year, the city is awash in color—blooming trees and flowers where you least expect them in a city that boasts skyscrapers so high they can completely block the sun onto entire streets.
Watching the crowds ebb and flow in a virtual scene of Grand Central Station
We planned our trip months ago and eagerly looked forward to it. Until the COVID-19 pandemic hit. By late March, it became apparent that our anticipated trip was not going to happen. First, our hotel informed us that it was closing. Then Broadway shows shut down. We finally forced ourselves, sadly and reluctantly, to cancel our plane flight. That was it. Trip over.
But, then, something interesting happened. In early April, inspired by watching a virtual reimagining of Ann Arbor’s FoolMoon event, Caroline posed the question: Could we turn our New York City trip into a virtual experience?
Our creative juices started flowing. We took our original itinerary and planned five days of food, video clips, and virtual museum tours to recreate a New York City trip at home. Here are some of the highlights:
Watching several high-energy video clips from the Broadway show "Ain't Too Proud," about the Motown group, The Temptations.
YouTube video footage of “Ain’t Too Proud”
Taking virtual tours of museums we had planned to visit, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Cloisters, and the Tenement Museum.
A virtual walkthrough of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
"Visiting" our favorite Lower East Side shops through videos and virtual tours, including: Economy Candy (accompanied by our own homemade chocolate-covered pretzels), The Pickle Guys (while eating some great Kosher dill pickles), and Russ & Daughters (after cooking up some scrambled eggs with lox, or smoked salmon).
Our homemade chocolate-covered pretzels
Recreating the meals we would have enjoyed at different restaurants, including baking three different kinds of bread from scratch: Jewish challah (egg bread), bialys (kind of like bagels), and Italian focaccia bread.
Our bialys just out of the oven
Taking a virtual tour of Central Park, through videos, books, snapshots, and a walk outside.
Having a virtual dinner and visit, via FaceTime, with my friend from Brooklyn.
Pulling out souvenirs and postcards from previous trips to New York City and displaying them on our dining room table, which helped spur happy memories during our five-day home “adventure.”
Our display of souvenirs and postcards
This idea kept us busy for weeks—from planning each day out to obtaining cooking ingredients, researching online offerings, preparing meals, baking, eating, visiting, and just plain enjoying family togetherness. We’re already working on our next virtual trip—to San Francisco, another highly anticipated but cancelled trip we had planned for May.
A recreation of our classic final meal, from Katz’s Delicatessen: a corned beef sandwich on rye with yellow mustard and a pile of Kosher dill pickles
We highly recommend this idea if you were hoping to go on a trip that got cancelled or just want to do some armchair travelling. Just imagine what you could do if you planned a virtual visit to The Henry Ford:
Watch Mo Rocca interview curators at places around Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation and Greenfield Village on episodes of The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation.You can start here, with episodes and related content:
Invite friends or family to a virtual meal to recall visits that you have made here together or plan to make in the future.
Pull together a group of souvenirs from your past trips and set them up in a display.
The possibilities are endless!
Admittedly, these times are surreal. And discouraging. And scary. But it helps to think creatively. Planning this virtual trip gave us purpose, a modicum of control, and a chance to put on our creative thinking caps. It also gave us something to look forward to and I’m sure will be something we look back on when this crisis is over.
Donna R. Braden is Curator of Public Life at The Henry Ford. Photographs by Caroline Braden.
THF293101 / Stock Crate Label for an Unknown Brand of Asparagus, 1906-1966
With asparagus season in full swing, we’ve searched our Historic Recipe Bank and Eagle Tavern Cookbook for spring menu inspiration.
Our first recipe, Cold Asparagus Salad with Sesame Seeds, is from the 1997 edition of The All New Joy of Cooking. Since it came out in 1931, The Joy of Cooking has become the essential culinary bible for many, with generations of home cooks learning to cook from it. The Joy of Cooking has been revised over the years, with its fans championing their favorite editions.
Place in a large pot of boiling water: 1½ pounds asparagus, peeled and cut diagonally into 2-inch pieces
Cook for no more than 1½ minutes for thin asparagus or 2½ minutes for thicker. Immediately drain and refill the pot with cold running water until all of the heat has left the asparagus. Drain again and dry thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate until the salad is cold, about 1 hour. Toss with the dressing and serve.
Eagle Tavern Asparagus Pie 1 pound asparagus 1 tablespoon whole butter 1 cup sour cream 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese 4 eggs Pinch nutmeg Salt and pepper to taste 9-inch pie shell
Clean the asparagus, removing and discarding woody ends; trim the rest to ½-inch pieces.
Heat oven to 350 F. In a skillet over medium heat, heat butter. When hot, add asparagus and partially cook for 4-5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Whisk together sour cream, cheese, eggs and nutmeg; season with salt and pepper.
Place the cooled asparagus on the bottom of the pie shell and add the whisked egg mixture.
Bake for 30-40 minutes or until set and golden brown. Allow the pie to rest for 5 minutes before cutting.
An early McDonald’s after the menu change and before the iconic Golden Arch redesign. THF125822
If you do an Internet search on the date and place of the first McDonald’s, chances are you’ll get 1955, Des Plaines, Illinois. But that was actually the first McDonald’s franchised by milkshake machine salesman Ray Kroc.
The first real McDonald’s was created by Richard (“Dick”) and Maurice (“Mac”) McDonald in San Bernardino, California, on May 15, 1940. Located on Route 66 and based upon a food stand opened by their father a few years earlier, Dick and Mac’s “McDonald’s Bar-B-Que” was typical of car-hop type drive-in restaurants of its day.
The big shift from a joint selling barbecue ribs, beef, and pork sandwiches on china plates to the McDonald’s we know today occurred in 1948. Dick and Mac were tired of trying to keep capable cooks and reliable carhops on staff. And the teenagers were driving them crazy—hanging out, breaking the china, and keeping other customers away. So they closed their restaurant, fired the carhops, and a few months later, introduced a whole new “Speedee Service System.” This radical new concept featured a limited menu, walk-up service, an assembly-line system of food production, and drastically reduced prices. Five years later, milkshake machine salesman Ray Kroc recognized a “golden” concept when he saw one. He franchised the concept with their name across the country, especially in the new suburban neighborhoods across the Midwest.
McDonald’s sign, 1960, in the Driving America exhibition, Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation. THF151145
Neon signs like this one, with a single “golden” arch and the logo of Speedee, the hamburger-headed chef, flashed in front of early McDonald’s franchises. The instantly recognizable design was drawn by Richard McDonald in 1952, first applied to a McDonald's restaurant in 1953, and then co-opted by Ray Kroc when he began franchising the restaurants in 1954. It became the corporate logo in 1963, after Kroc bought out the McDonald brothers in 1961. This particular sign lit up Michigan’s second McDonald’s, located in Madison Heights.
The McDonald’s innovative Speedee Service System, reduced-price menu, and recognizable Golden Arches set the standard for numerous other fast food establishments to come. During the 1970s, Happy Meals raised the bar again. McDonald’s continues to be at the forefront of new trends in the fast food industry.
Donna R. Braden is Curator of Public Life at The Henry Ford.
Hobo Bread, ingeniously baked in a can, brings the vagabond tales of the resourceful American hobos to your home. The Henry Ford lives to tell the innovative and compelling stories of American life through artifacts, exhibits and even food. Whether for breakfast, sandwiches or as a dessert, this original recipe allows you to enjoy an American tradition that once turned strangers on the track into family.
- 1 1/2 cups boiling water
- 2 cups raisins
- 4 teaspoons baking soda
- 4 teaspoons butter, softened
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cups walnuts
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
1. Pour boiling water over raisins; let cool.
2. Stir in baking soda and other ingredients.
3. Fill 3 greased and floured 28-ounce cans to half full (remove paper labels from cans before starting the baking process).
4. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes to an hour.
We hope you enjoyed this week’s experiences focused on Power and Energy. Were you inspired to create or invent something? Please share your photos with us on social media using #WeAreInnovationNation!
If you missed anything from our series this past week, check out the recordings and resources below. We hope that you will join us this upcoming week to explore new themes drawn from our Model i Learning Framework, beginning with Be Empathetic.
What We Covered This Week Power & Energy: How is power created?
#Innovation Nation Watch segments related to power and energy from The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation here.
Innovation Journeys Live! Join us for an Innovation Journey Live when Jessica Robinson, our Entrepreneur in Residence, and Matt Anderson, our Curator of Transportation, talk about electric and autonomous cars. Watch the video here.
Kid Inventor Our Friday segment will be a little different this week as we hear from Attorney Michael “Max” Sneyd, an attorney at Kerr, Russell and Weber, PLC in Detroit, Michigan all about patents, copyrights and trademarks. This is a great opportunity for all of our invention convention participants to learn the difference between each, what you might need and what might not apply to your invention, what to consider when developing your invention, how to apply for a patent, copyright, or trademark, how long it takes, and how families can support their inventors in the application process. Watch the interview here.
Learn more below about how our Invention Convention Curriculum activities can to keep your child innovating.
Resource Highlight: Invention convention Curriculum In our continued efforts to help parents, students and educators during these times of uncertainty, The Henry Ford is providing helpful tips that assist parents in adapting its educational tools for implementation at home.
This week we are highlighting a lesson from the Invention Convention Curriculum. The program is open to students in grades K-12. The lessons teach students skills that will give young innovators the chance to design, build, and pitch an original invention to their peers and judges. Competitions are held at local or regional levels and those qualifying move on to state competition. State qualifiers can then compete at the Invention Convention U.S. Nationals held here at The Henry Ford.
Our Invention Convention curriculum takes young inventors through the complete process of inventing. The activities in our curriculum take young inventors through the seven steps of the invention process. These 7 steps provide the framework for the heart of the Invention Convention curriculum. The lessons are organized by step: - Identifying - Understanding - Ideating - Designing - Building - Testing - Communicating
Entrepreneurship lessons are also added. We have designed the activities to build skills in invention and engineering while supporting the creation of your students’ very own inventions. You can learn more about the Invention Convention Curriculum Link here. Parents and educators can learn more about Model i here.
Janice Warju is Coordinator, Learning Content Development, at The Henry Ford.
If you’re ready to bring more innovative thinking, collaboration and can-do spirit to your virtual meetings? These background images will help you conduct your meeting in the original environments that are part of The Henry Ford collections and experiences. They include Thomas Edison’s lab, the Wright Brothers Cycle Shop, Mathematica, Dymaxion House, an 18th-century farmhouse, railroad roundhouse and a real automotive factory.