Posted on November 28, 2016 by Janet Steinberg
Reincarnation of an Ice Ball, a Mansion and a Shoe Polish

Part 5 of a Series 


Happy days are here again! 

Detroit, ‘The Comeback City’ is really coming back.  And with it, some old values, old history, and old sayings are also coming back.   Come along with me and see how an old-timer’s 20th Century world is influencing the world of the 21st Century. 

It's more than water…it's more than ice…it's creamy like ice cream, but not fatty…it's fruity like sherbet, but with no milk products…it is frozen like shaved ice, but there is no juice to run out.   It's got no fat…no dairy…and no cholesterol.  

What is it?  It's Water Ice, an ancient Italian tradition reminiscent of the 20th century’s paper-coned ice balls. 

Where is it?  It’s at THE DETROIT WATER ICE FACTORY, located at Campus Martius Park in Detroit Michigan. 

Why is it?  It’s because a renowned American author, journalist, screenwriter, dramatist, broadcaster, and musician simply wanted to give something back.



In 2006, best selling author and journalist Mitch Albom (“Tuesdays With Morrie”, “The Five People You Meet In Heaven”, etc.) founded S.AY. Detroit (Super All Year), a 100% dollar-in-dollar-out charity.  In partnership with the Detroit Rescue mission, S.A.Y Detroit provides an “umbrella” of resources serving everyone from newborns, teens, senior citizens, our honored veterans, and the homeless. 100% of their profits help Detroit’s neediest citizens through S.A.Y. Detroit.

In 2015, Albom created The Detroit Water Ice Factory, following the “Newman’s Own” model of philanthropy. Its mission is to offer a delicious, top-of-the-line food product, with the sole goal of raising funds to help others.  The Water Ice menu includes such fun treats as the Grape Gatsby, Motown Mint & the Chips, and the Fantastically Frozen Hot Chocolate.  



Eat up and enjoy.  As Water Ice likes to say: “There’s no calories in doing good.” 

THE WHITNEY RESTAURANT AND GHOST BAR is an historic Detroit landmark.  In 1894, The Whitney Mansion became home to the family of lumber baron, David Whitney Jr., the wealthiest man in Detroit. Today, this iconic turn-of-the-century, Romanesque Revival mansion is a world-class restaurant (now known as The Whitney) that retains all of its charm and refinement yet appeals to contemporary tastes.  Little wonder that The Whitney was the romantic restaurant where my husband and I chose to celebrate our 28th anniversary. 



The moment I laid eyes upon the pink jasper stone exterior and the manicured garden, I knew I was in for a special evening.  The interior of the mansion exudes an elegant old-world charm rarely seen today.  The grand staircase is back-dropped by Tiffany windows, and the dining room features a secret vault behind a movable wall where Mr. Whitney kept his money and valuables.  Legend has it that Mr. Whitney didn’t trust banks.  (Ask your server to show you the vault.) 



Ascend the grand staircase (or take the elevator if you wish) to The Ghost Bar, an exclusive upscale lounge where the elite meet to chill with the swanky spirits of Detroit.  The Ghost Bar is known for one of the cities best happy hour menus, live entertainment and the world famous Witching Hour Martini.  Death in the Afternoon is a Sunday feature at the Ghost Bar. 

By now, you must be wondering: ‘How was the food?’  In one word: Superb!  I began with David’s Martini (with Maker’s Mark 46) and the Hot Appetizer Platter (with Calamari, Crab Cakes and Eggplant Bruschetta.)  I have eaten Calamari around the world, and this was by far the best ever.   A Peach Spritzer Intermezzo magically appeared to cleanse my palate prior to the Provimi Veal Osso Buco and a side of Mushroom Saute.  Again…Superb! 



SHINOLA, the iconic shoe polish brand, was founded in Rochester New York in 1877 and went out of business in 1960.  Shinola was forever immortalized in colloquial English by the phrase "You don't know **** from Shinola" which first became widely popular during World War II.  The colloquial phrase was used in the 1979 Steve Martin film comedy “The Jerk” and referred to in the 1992 movie “Basic Instinct”.  Dolly Parton wrote the song "Shinola", which also uses a lyric that plays on the colloquial phrase, for her 2008 Backwoods Barbie album. 




In 2001, the name Shinola was acquired by a venture capital firm that wanted to create an American watch-manufacturing brand to rival Swiss-makers at a lower price point.  They chose the name "Shinola" when an associate used that now-famous World War II era colloquialism. 

Shinola's first watch was released in March 2013. The 2500 Limited Edition Runwell sold out in one week.  The Wright Brothers Limited Edition watch, the first watch in the Great Americans Series, was released in conjunction with a limited edition bicycle.  Three models of Shinola bicycles are now assembled at Shinola's flagship retail store in Detroit. In addition to watches and bicycles, Shinola also makes leather goods such as journals, watchstraps, and a collection of American-made dog beds, toys, leashes and collars. 



That a lot of business emanating from a WWII colloquial saying!

JANET STEINBERG is an award-winning Travel Writer/Editor and International Travel Consultant with THE TRAVEL AUTHORITY in Mariemont, Ohio

Recent Posts