Ypsilanti’s Failed Breakfast Cereal

June 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Columnists

An ad for Wheat Hearts appeared in the August 12, 1909 Ypsilanti Daily Press.

An ad for Wheat Hearts appeared in the August 12, 1909 Ypsilanti Daily Press.

Ypsilanti once had a chance of becoming an empire of breakfast cereals, like Battle Creek.

In 1909, electricity was still making inroads into the city. Only some houses were “wired.” Most were heated with coal. Cars were uncommon. Most women were homemakers, and most men’s commute consisted of a walk from home to another part of the city.

Many families got their flour from the Ypsilanti Milling Company on Cross Street near the river. The mill’s ad in the March 2, 1909 Ypsilanti Daily Press read,

“The Ypsilanti Mill is now running and turning out a STRICTLY HIGH GRADE FLOUR.

“Our BLUE LABEL brand is gaining new friends every day. Last week it was just a youngster. This week it is older and you will probably like it better.

“Further, we want you to try our ‘TIDAL WAVE’ brand. It’s a strictly high class patent and worthy of a little assistance from its friends in the way of trial orders.

“Our wagon is still running [for home delivery] and we want you to phone your orders in AT ONCE OR SOONER.”

The hydro-powered mill was an old one, dating from the 1830s. A feature article in the May 23, 1874 Ypsilanti Commercial gave an overview of the city businesses of the time. The piece mentions the city mill.

“[The mill stands] on the east bank of the Huron, above Cross Street bridge. It, or rather the mill of which this is an enlargement, was built in Territorial days [before Michigan became a state in 1837]. In 1865 it came into the possession of the Ypsilanti Woolen Mill Company, and by this company was sold to T. C. Owen, Esq., a nephew of E. B. Ward of Detroit, who is also an interested party. The mill is an immense structure. It contains seven run of stone, and at present is turning out 250 barrels of flour per day. It, in addition, grinds 30,000 bushels of grain per year, for the farmers of the vicinity.  . . A side track from the Michigan Central Railroad runs to the door of the mill.” The side track ran approximately where Rice Street is today.

Ypsilanti poet-farmer William Lambie raised wheat on his farm just north of town. In his poem “A Harvest Hymn,” published in his 1883 book “Life on the Farm,” he lauded the grain:

We see the God of nature in bounteous love bestowing,
In every year of life we reap the seed we have been sowing,
Till our barns are filled with plenty and cups are overflowing,
As we are marching on.
We have entered on a calling that will never know defeat,
For honor and for daily bread we work in summer’s heat,
Ever reaping golden harvests of the finest of the wheat,
When summer days are long.

1909 was a good year for local wheat production. The Ypsilanti Milling Corporation decided to put some of that wheat into a new venture. It milled it into a breakfast gruel similar to Cream of Wheat.

On August 6, 1909 the first ad for “Wheat Hearts” appeared.


“What are they? Well, we’ll tell you. They are our new breakfast food made from the very best wheat grown; viz, that around Ypsilanti, and ground fresh every day. Why buy breakfast foods made away from home when you can get something here which you know is fresh and which will cost you less money. Ask your grocer for Wheat Hearts.
“The Ypsilanti Milling Co.
“East Cross St. Phone 171.”

The ad ran again on August 10, 12, and 16.

Several local grocers also ran ads during that summer, often listing their goods and specials in the ads. Some listed oatmeal and cornflakes.

None listed Ypsilanti Wheat Hearts.

The Ypsilanti Milling Company’s ads for Wheat Hearts vanished by September of 1909. Perhaps no one wanted a hot breakfast gruel in August. Possibly a fall launch of the cereal might have helped it to succeed. At any rate, Wheat Hearts vanished from the scene. The Ypsilanti Historical Museum holds no packaging artifacts of this forgotten cereal.

Had it caught on, Wheat Hearts might have made Ypsilanti a breakfast cereal empire, renowned from Mackinac to Monroe. Trains could have shipped the cereal to cities around the nation. Citizens could have been humming the catchy Wheat Hearts jingle, perhaps along the lines of:

From the fertile Ypsilanti
To the pantry of my auntie,
It’s Wheat Hearts!
For some good starts!

Alas, it wasn’t to be. Wheat Hearts vanished from the 1909 papers and presumably from local stores—if indeed it had ever been stocked.

The only people who remember our failed foray into the breakfast cereal arena are local hermits poring over crumbling newspapers.

And they’re no help in promoting Wheat Hearts. They usually  have just a miserly cup of coffee—black, no sugar—for breakfast.

Laura Bien is the author of “Tales from the Ypsilanti Archives.” Catch her free talk with local historianJames Mann at Ypsilanti’s Senior Center Wednesday, July 7 at 7:30 p.m.. Have an old-time Ypsi story? Contact Laura at [email protected]

Picture of the Week – The Last Hudson Dealer

The last Hudson dealer – Ypsilanti, Michigan, photo by sjb4photos

Here in Ypsilanti, Michigan is the last remaining Hudson dealership
in existence. It is now part of the Ypsilanti Auto Heritage Collection,
founded by Jack Miller, who’s Father started this dealership.

Jack was manning the front desk when we visited on New Year’s Eve.
This 1933 Terraplane is currently displayed in the showroom and is
all original.

Still Cookin’ with Aunt Gerry

June 22, 2010 by  
Filed under Columnists

Minnie, Aunt Gerry’s “Big Puppy,” a 1-year old black lab, has been acting-up all week. The dog ate a loaf of bread, a box of cookies and a package of licorice. Every morning Minnie has been greeting Aunt Gerry with one of Joe’s socks and Aunt Gerry is never able to locate it’s match. It’s been hectic around the house so Aunt Gerry quickly pulled out two old standards for this week’s column:

Popular Porqupine Meatballs

When the rice cooks, it pokes out around the meatball, making it look like the back end of a porqupine. However, these “Porqupines” aren’t dangerous, they’re delicious! ~Aunt Gerry

2 lbs. ground beef
3/4 cup uncooked rice
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 teaspoons celery salt
2 tablespoons onions
1 (10 1/2-oz) can tomato soup
1 (8-oz) can tomato sauce
1 cup dwater

Blend meat, rice pepper, celery salt, onions. Form into 24 balls. Place in baking dish; add soup, tomato sauce, and water. Cover and bake in slow oven (325 degrees) for 1 1/4 hours.

Lazy Lemon Cake

It’s called “Lazy” because the recipe calls for a box cake mix. I always keep one on hand in case I’m asked to prepare something for a funeral at church. My daughter thinks I’m morbid. The women in charge of the funeral luncheons think I’m wonderful. ~Aunt Gerry

1 small pkg. lemon jello
1 cup boiling water.
1 pkg. lemon cake mix
3/4 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/4 cup water

Stir together Jello and water until jello is dissolved; cool. While Jello mixture is cooling, in mixing bowl combine remaining ingredients. Mix with mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the cooled jello-water mixture. Mix until well blended. Pur batter into greased and lightly floured angel food cake pan or Bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Remove from oven and poke holes in top of cake. Pour glaze over cake while hot.
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/2 cup lemon jice
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
Mix together until smooth and pour over hot cake.

Aunt GerryGerry Burns (Aunt Gerry) is an octogenarian & Ypsilantian who has resided with her husband Joe in their Augusta Township home for 43 years. After working 20 years at Eastern Michigan University, she retired in 1992. In addition to knitting and baking, Aunt Gerry enjoys the company of her husband & family which includes three grown children, three grandchildren and Minnie; a large, rambunctious, black Labrador retriever. At 80 years old, Aunt Gerry is happy that she’s “Still Cookin'” You can email Aunt Gerry at [email protected]

Now Where Did I Put That Darn Iguana? (1 Update)

June 22, 2010 by  
Filed under Humor, News

South-Side Ypsilanti resident and YpsiNews.com managing editor Steve Pierce sent an interesting inquiry via email today:

If you lost an iguana (we think that is what it is) I may know where it is.  Give me a brief description of what it looks like and where you last had it.  ~Steve

Steve can be contacted at [email protected]

If the AWOL iguana is not claimed, perhaps there is a new belt or a pair of boots in Mr. Pierce’s future.



June 22, 2010 @ 18:15

Approximately 20 responses were received regarding the little lost lizard.  This impressed Steve Pierce because as he put it, “You know, when you are the guy that wrote the (April Fools Day) stories about crocodiles in Riverside Park and oil discovered at Water Street… well, it is fair that some were skeptical about a report of a lost iguana.”  (http://ypsinews.com/index.php/200804-crocodile-spotted-in-riverside-park)

According to Pierce, the iguana’s owner has been found.  The owner was able to ID “Marissa” from pictures.  Marissa has been missing since May 28, 2010 and began her journey in the Normal Park area.  To make her way to Ypsilanti’s south side neighborhood, she would’ve had to cross busy Michigan Avenue.  Well done, Marissa!

Although the iguana’s owner has been found, the iguana herself has eluded capture so far.  Apparently it’s not easy to track a green iguana in a green tree.

YpsiNews.com does not anticipate CNN trucks lining the streets and doubts Nancy Grace will be reporting from Ypsilanti.  However, a small volunteer watch has been formed to locate Marissa.  YpsiNews.com will keep you posted on the Great Ypsilanti Iguana Hunt.

If you happen to spot “Marissa”, please contact YpsiNews.com and be informed that Marissa likes cream cheese.

It Takes A Town To Make A Video – How Was I To Know?

June 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Humor, News, Video

This is the story of  the making of a music video.  Before reporting how it was made, YpsiNews.com is proud to report where it was made – In Ypsilanti, Michigan.  Ypsilantian Ken MacGregor is a strong proponent of supporting local businesses.  With this music video he is trying to do his part to bring national, perhaps even global, attention to our city as a place of “enormous creative potential.”

It started with an idea for a song, but since MacGregor, the man with the idea, couldn’t write  music, play music, or even sing – he needed help.  He found it in Adam Dahl: singer, songwriter, guitarist. Together, they hashed out the lyrics, and within an hour had completed “How Was I To Know?” They played the song for friends and family with positive response.  Dahl & MacGregor both got the song stuck in their heads and figured that was a good sign.  Adam commented, half-joking, “We should make a music video!”  Ken responded, “You know… I know people who do that.”

MacGregor sent out emails and used his connections with local Ypsilanti talent to set things in motion.  He said, “I could see it in my head, and once I could do that, I knew I could make it happen in the real world…or at least on camera.”  Ken contacted videographer Scott Hatkow, who agreed to work pro bono saying, “I’ve always wanted to do a music video.”  MacGregor also called upon Kelly Jean Passage, the female lead in a zombie horror / comedy he’ll be  shooting this summer.  Passage loved the song and was enthusiastic about being in the video.  Matthew Fulton,  a buddy from high school, now a Kung Fu instructor happily agreed to choreograph the fight scenes.  A recording session was scheduled, filming locations were confirmed and they were ready to go.

Kelly Jean Passage had never studied martial arts, a key element of the video.  After a month of rehearsing fight choreography, Matthew Fulton had her looking like a mighty warrior, very convincing on camera as a competent Kung Fu practitioner.  Matthew also provided the armor used in the video and appeared as an extra.  The first day of shooting was devoted entirely to the fight scene, and was shot over five hours on a day with intermittent rain showers. They had to stop taping often to run into the garage out of the rain.  Shooting would resume when there was a break in the clouds.  MacGregor ended up ill after shooting scenes where he repeatedly had to fall  on the wet grass.  His enthusiasm still evident he remarked, “It was totally worth it. We got some great footage!”

The gym scene was shot at Ypsi Studio, a small fitness and wellness center in Ypsilanti on Michigan Avenue.  Julia Collins, the owner, donated the use of the space and agreed to fill in as an extra.  MacGregor also called in Dave Rahbari at the last minute as an extra-extra-extra playing three different parts.   The final location was Haab’s Restaurant, an Ypsilanti landmark.  There, the production was aided by a very helpful staff, including the bartender who made the actors fake cocktails to drink.

The video went up on YouTube on June 1, and is  already closing in on  1,000 hits.  YouTube has begun putting ads on the video, which can be assumed means  they think it’s doing pretty well.  It’s definitely a positive statement about the local talent in Ypsilanti.

WATCH VIDEO:  How Was I To Know?

Ton-Up Festival Premiere

On June 26, Ypsilanti’s Depot Town will be invaded by possibly 1,000 motorcycles.  It’s the welcome and friendly invasion of The Ton-Up Motorcycle Show and Music Festival.  Parts of Cross and Rice Streets will be closing for the event which will feature motorcycles and scooters of all types from all eras, with a focus on vintage bikes.

Cafe’ Racer at 10 Cross Street acts as “Mission Control” for the free festival.  There will be live music on stage from noon to 11pm with a lineup of local musicians such as The Reefermen, Ypsitucky Colonels and Rattlebox.  A beer tent will be set up and motorcycle accessories & parts will be available from vendors.

A $5 entry fee gets your bike into the Mods Vs. Rockers bike competition.  Entrants have a chance to win in many categories:

Directors Awards
Directors Choice – The Directors Favorite
The Future’s So Bright – Exemplifies Hope For The Future
Dedication Award – Someone Who Has Contributed To Making The World Safer For Motorcyclists
Class Awards
Best Scooter
Best Mod – Scooter/Rider Combination
Best Café
Best Rocker – Bike/Rider Combination
Best Brit Bike
Best Japanese Bike
Best European Bike
Best American Bike
Best “Bitsa” Bike – Bits Of This, Bits Of That
Best Original/Un-restored Vintage Bike
Maybe One Day It’ll Be A Bike
What Were You Thinking?
Trailer Queen
Longest Distance Ridden
Iron Man – Oldest Rider
Wet Behind the Ears – Youngest Rider
Peoples Choice – Chosen By Popular Vote


During The Ton-Up Motorcycle & Music Festival, Cafe’ Racer is holding a contest to find a  model to grace a page of their 2011 Pin-Up calendar.  Contestants will model vintage 40s, 50s, & 60s pin-up attire.

Ton-Up is a British term that refers to a motorcycle capable of speeds of 100mph or more.  Organizers expect between 2,500 and 3,000 people to attend this first-time event.  To find out more about this event, sponsorship opportunities, the pin-up competition, or to register your bike for the show, visit The Ton-Up Web site at http://thetonup.intuitwebsites.com.

Your Ypsilanti Weekend June 18-21, 2010

June 17, 2010 by  
Filed under Announcements, News

Depot Town Cruise Night:  Thursday, 5pm-9pm; Cross Street – Enjoy live music while strolling Ypsilanti’s historic Depot Town amongst classic, new and unique automobiles.  No Admission Charge – Free

The Waiting Room:  Thursday, Friday & Saturday 8pm, Sunday 5pm; Riverside Arts Center, Ypsilanti  – An intriguing dark comedy exploring what would happen if three women from three different time periods and cultures met in a doctor’s office today to discuss their maladies.  Ticket Prices – General Admission: $16,  Students & Seniors: $11

Crossroads Music Fest:  Friday, 7pm-10pm; Washington Street, Downtown Ypsilanti – Barbara Payton and Just Jill perform.  No Admission Charge – Free

Depot Town Farmer’s Market:  Saturday, 8am-1pm; Freighthouse Plaza, Depot Town Ypsilanti – The market offesr fresh fruits and vegetables, plants, flowers, meats, bread and other baked goods, and craft items.  No Admission Charge – Free 

Ypsilanti Relay For Life:  Saturday – Sunday, 10am to 10am; Riverside Park, Depot Town, Ypsilanti – To benefit American Cancer Society.  No Admission Charge – Opportunity For Donation


The Girl in Centerfield

June 17, 2010 by  
Filed under News, Sports

cntrfieldgrlIn May of 1973, a 12-year-old girl in pigtails from Ypsilanti, Michigan made history by taking on the largest youth sports organization in America.  Carolyn King was simply looking to play baseball when she tried out for a spot in the Ypsilanti American Little League.  She went to the tryouts with her younger brother, and impressed the coaches with her strong throwing arm and her speed.  The coach of the Orioles was looking for a center fielder, and he thought that Carolyn might fit the bill, so he drafted her.  One problem: In 1951, the National Little League organization in Williamsport, Pa., had enacted a rule that specifically said girls were not eligible to play.  National officials felt the sport of baseball was too dangerous for girls, so they decided to restrict their leagues to boys.  The National Little League threatened to pull the local league’s charter if Carolyn played, but the City of Ypsilanti said that if she didn’t play, the league couldn’t use the city’s fields. When she suited up for the Orioles in their first game – making history in the process – the National Little League followed through on its threat to pull the local league’s charter.   That set up a summer of controversy and showdowns in Ypsilanti that strongly divided the community as the case headed to federal court.  It made national headlines in 1973, and landed the story on the evening news. In the middle of it all was a 12-year-old in pigtails who simply wanted to play baseball.  Carolyn’s case and the national uproar it caused prompted National Little League officials to drop their boys-only rule.  In 1974, thanks to Carolyn King, girls became eligible to play Little League baseball.  The Ypsilanti American Little League founded in 1953, is the oldest Little League in Michigan and the first in the world to include a female player

“The Girl in Centerfield,” a feature-length documentary produced by Detroit-based Stunt3 Multimedia, is the story of Carolyn King’s fight to play Little League baseball. Using interviews, stock footage, and re-creation, Stunt3 will weave together the drama of the summer of 1973 when the nation watched as the city of Ypsilanti went head-to-head with Williamsport, Pennsylvania and the institution of Little League Baseball.  The film is scheduled for release in the summer of 2010. On Thursday, July 19, 2010, 7-8:30pm Ypsilanti District Library will premiere the trailer for the documentary and host a personal appearance by Carolyn King Minot. girlgrown-1

Carolyn King Minot being interviewed for”The Girl in Centerfield”

Ypsilanti Ladies, Take The Field!

June 16, 2010 by  
Filed under Announcements, News, Sports

Eastern Michigan University is offering “Football 101” –  a skills clinic for women Saturday, July 24, 2010 from 10 am-3 pm.  Participants will experience what it’s like to be a player as coaches teach them the importance of different positions and run them through practice drills.  At the end of the day, they will have the basic knowledge and skills needed to enjoy the game of football.

Registration for the event is $30 per person ($15 for EMU students) which includes lunch, a “Football 101” t-shirt, and photo opportunities with Head Coach Ron English.  Each participant will also receive a season ticket to the 2010 EMU Football season.  Additionally, for each Football 101 registration, $5 will be donated to support EMU Volleyball’s “Dig Pink” fundraiser to benefit breast cancer research, which will take place in the fall.  For more information about the EMU Football 101 Skills Clinic, call 734.487.8109 or visit EMUEagles.com.

Ypsilanti Parks & Rec. Seeks Commissioners

There are several seats open on the City of Ypsilanti’s Parks & Recreation Commission, and the Ypsilanti commissioners are seeking committed citizens from all areas of the city to apply to be considered for an appointed position.  The Commission works to:

1) Collaborate to create & implement a Parks & Recreation Master Plan
2) Recruit/recommend/promote Parks & Recreation use and activities
3) Coordinate the Adopt-A-Park Program
4) Assist in recommendation and implementation of related city/area plans (non-motorized plan, border-to-border trail, etc)
5) Coordinate with other government units for area-wide collaboration (Washtenaw Parks & Rec, Ypsi Twp, School District)
6) Other governance as relevant to parks & recreation

Meetings are generally monthly (currently on Thursday evenings), and terms are four years. Adults and high-school aged youth are both welcome to serve.  Interested citizens should contact Mayor Schreiber at  [email protected] to discuss their interest in being considered for an appointment.  The Mayor will take multiple factors into consideration, and interest in the position will not necessarily lead to an appointment at this time.

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