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Seven Best: Michigan food

Chow time! It's Friday so let's debate the best foods made and consumed in great quantity in my house…Oops…I mean the Great Lakes state.

--Better Made: This snack-food company has been in Detroit since 1930. It uses locally grown potatoes to make their famous chips (personal fave: barbecue). Better Made also produces pretzels, pork rinds, tortilla chips, beef jerky, salsas and cheese dips. The company claims Detroiters eat an average of seven pounds of chips per year, as opposed to four for the rest of the country. Explains a lot.

--Koegel and Kowalski: Personally, I could eat a Koegel Vienna every day. And I would have to renounce my Polish heritage if I didn't praise the mighty Kowalski family for its Kielbasa. Koegel, based near Flint, makes everything from summer sausage to salami to olive loaf. Kowalski is a Hamtramck powerhouse with markets across Metro Detroit.

--Garden Fresh: Amazing fresh salsa. Crispy fresh chips. I have products from Ferndale-based Garden Fresh in my fridge at this very moment. Founder Jack Aronson started making his salsas from his restaurant and they grew so popular he had to mass market them. Thank you, kind sir. (The hummus also is wonderful).

--Jiffy: Who hasn't enjoyed Jiffy blueberry muffins at least once? The Chelsea-based company manufactures over 1.6 million boxes of “JIFFY” mixes every day. Each mix costs less than $1, which makes them very budget friendly. Jiffy is so popular nationwide that the company never needs to advertise. (See, I just did its dirty work for free once again!)

--Hudsonville Ice Cream: Straight out of Holland comes the creamiest, dreamiest ice cream in the land. Don't believe me? Drive straight to Michigan right now and try the Pumpkin flavor. Or the Mackinac Island Fudge. Or the Grand Traverse Bay Cherry Fudge. Enough said.

--Sanders and Morley: These two chocolate dynasties have worked together for a common good since 2002. Nothing in the world (to me) tastes better than some good ice cream – see Number Five – and some fabulous Sanders hot fudge. Bliss.

--Beer: This is October (translation: Oktoberfest) so you have to invest in some good Michigan beer. Believe it or not, today is the start of “Detroit Beer Week,” according to the Michigan Brewers Guild. So grab a Bells, Curmudgeon, Cherry Festive Ale or Huma Lupa Licious and salute this Great Beer State.

Other greats: Guernsey Farms Dairy, Elan Candy, Dearborn Sausage Company, Eden Organic, Gayle's Chocolates, Kellogg's cereal, Steve's Backroom, Zingerman's, Achatz Handmade Pie Co. The list goes on and on.

P.S. I would have mentioned Vernors and Faygo, but they aren't locally owned any more. Vernors is owned by Dr. Pepper, although Wikipedia claims some 80 percent of the ginger-flavored ale is still consumed in Michigan. Faygo was purchased by a Florida-based company more than 10 years ago. Still, love me some Redpop.

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