If there's been a little girl in your life at any point, chances are pretty good that Raggedy Ann made her way into your home.
The cloth doll with the yarn hair and the candy-cane-striped stockings has been a part of America's toy scene for a century.
Raggedy Ann has some very strong roots in West Michigan.
Anne Dake is a curator at the Muskegon Heritage Museum. She says almost 90,000 Raggedy Ann dolls were handmade in Muskegon from 1918 to 1926.
According to Dake, the story of Raggedy Ann began when cartoonist Johnny Gruelle's daughter found a red doll at her grandmother's house. They painted her a new face, and Gruelle's daughter named it "Raggedy Ann."
"Her iconic smile, her joy ... Every time you see one, you can't help but smile and be happy," says Dake.
It's hard to imagine driving without the guidance of the tri-color traffic light, isn't it?
Turns out, that tri-color light that keeps us from crashing into each other at intersections was the brainchild of a Detroit police officer.
Matt Anderson is curator of transportation at The Henry Ford museum complex. Anderson says there had generally been two lights – one telling us to stop and the other telling us to go. But William Potts, a Detroit police officer, found a way to make the lights safer.
“It was Potts’ inspiration to put in the third light, sort of amber caution, letting you know the signal change is imminent, so that you can prepare to slow down,” says Anderson.
Today, there are more than 3oo,000 intersections with traffic signals throughout the U.S.
And where was the first four-way traffic signal tower installed in the world?
It was at a corner of Woodward Avenue here in Detroit, says Anderson.
* Listen to the full interview with Matt Anderson above.
When you think of Jiffy Mix, you may think biscuits and corn muffins. But did you know they are also Michigan made?
Howdy Holmes is the president and CEO of Jiffy Mix. His grandmother is the one who started it all.
When Howdy’s father and uncle, Howard and Dudley, were young, they had a friend who was being raised by a single parent. The young boys invited their friend over for lunch, and he arrived with a bag lunch made by his dad. Howard and Dudley’s mother was concerned about what the father had made for his son.
“She opened the bag and right on top was a biscuit, which she said looked more like a white hockey puck,” Howdy said.
At the 2012 Summer Olympics, the U.S. team got a lot of criticism for wearing Olympic clothing made in China to the opening ceremonies.
For the Winter Games, designer Ralph Lauren used American material. The yarn for the sweaters and hats that will be worn in the closing ceremonies at the Winter Olympics in Sochi was spun in East Jordan, Michigan.
As the world watches the U.S. Olympic hockey teams in Sochi, they’re getting a good look at some real, made-in-Michigan artistry.
The masks worn by goaltenders Ryan Miller, Jimmy Howard, and Bianne McLaughlin were all painted by artist Ray Bishop at his shop in Grand Blanc.
“I started painting masks mostly for young players,” said Bishop. “My first professional mask was for the Detroit Vipers.”
He worked his way up from there. This is not the first time Bishop's handiwork has been featured in the Olympics. He painted goalie masks in 2002, 2006, and 2010.
For this year's games, Miller’s mask features Uncle Sam holding the Sochi torch. Howard's has a stars-and-stripes pattern. Brianne’s mask sports the shield from the U.S. jerseys.
“It really just gives you goose bumps ... to think how many people actually can see a piece of artwork that you’ve done," Bishop said. "I can say I’m pretty fortunate to have the opportunity to do it.”
You can listen to our conversation with Bishop below.
Joel Stone, curator at the Detroit Historical Museum, tells us the history of Ball Park Franks.
Some might argue there's nothing more American than baseball.
Well, did you know those Ball Park Franks that go with it are Michigan-made?
Back in 1958, the owners of Tiger Stadium were not happy with the hot dogs served at the games. So they asked Detroit-based company, Hygrade Food Corp., to come up with a better version.
Gus Hauf, a Hygrade employee, had already developed his secret recipe for the hot dog that decade. His co-worker, Mary Ann Kirk, came up with the "Ball Park" name, cementing the relationship between baseball and hot dogs. For her out-of-the-park idea, Mary Ann earned $25 and a leather chair.
"Michigan had kind of the best frankfurters in the country," said Joel Stone, the curator of the Detroit Historical Museum. "And the Ball Park was a perfect example of that."