Saturday, January 12, 2019

Vernor's Gnome Found

The Vernor's gnome--created by artist Noble Fellows--is one of Detroit's beloved corporate mascots. In the 1970s, the company ran a Gname the Gnome contest. The chosen name--Jerome the Gnome--happily never caught on. The Gnome was forced into an early severance program in the 1980s. The bearded man in the green hat faded from sight until the Dr. Pepper-Snapple Beverage Group--present brand owners--brought the logo out of retirement in 2002. They renamed the gnome Woody. That didn't catch on any better than Jerome. Most people call him the Vernor's Gnome.

In case you aren't from Detroit and don't know what Vernor's is, I'll try to describe it for you. Vernor's is a mildly sweet, highly carbonated ginger-flavored soda, with a touch of caramel for golden color and a kiss of vanilla for flavor and bouquet. Warm Vernor's was grandma's remedy for upset stomach or nasal congestion. It is a great hydrating fluid.

In summer, few things go down better on a hot day than a Boston Cooler--ice cold Vernor's blended with vanilla ice cream thin enough to draw easily up a straw. Cafe D'Mongo's Speakeasy on Griswald Street in Downtown Detroit combines Vernor's with Royal Crown and bitters and calls it a Detroit Brown.

A friend of mine--Renee Reilly Menard--from my Allen Park High School days--was going through a box she hadn't opened for many years and found a Vernor's Gnome mascot plush toy from the 1960s in its original packaging. Renee's father worked for Vernor's and brought the plush doll home one day. This stuffed mascot was a point-of-sale promotional item. At some point, it was thrown into a box and forgotten about.

Renee entrusted me with it. I'm tempted to tear open the sealed plastic bag and enjoy the gnome in the moment, but it's rare. I'm thinking it belongs in the Detroit Historical Museum so more people can enjoy seeing it too.
The label reads: Canasia Toys & Gifts Inc, Downsview, Ontario, Made in Korea.

Vernor's Ginger Ale Story: