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John and Frank Germack (Sr.) came to America through New York’s Ellis Island in 1912 at the ages  of 12 and 7, respectively. Longing for a taste of their homeland, older brother John started a business  in Brooklyn, then in New York City to sell traditional food imports to the growing population of Turkish,  Greek and Eastern Europeans making their way to the US. Some of their products included olives  and olive oil, spices and various nuts. Pistachio nuts, extremely costly and a delicacy in the Mediterranean, were new to many in the US. Frank joined the company, and the two brothers sought other locations  to grow the import business.

Germack letterhead circa 1928

The company imported products into New York, and then Detroit. Detroit was a booming industrial town, and immigrants
and locals provided steady business for the imported delicacies. Younger brother  Frank (Sr.) remained in Detroit, where
the imported pistachios were roasted while John acquired another  nut company in 1936 named Zenobia, and moved
back to New York City (Zenobia was later sold by John Germack, but remains in business today).



Frank Germack Sr. focused the company entirely on the  import and roasting of Pistachios as well as other nuts, including Brazils, Cashews and Pignolia (Pine) nuts. Many of these nut varieties were also new to the US. In addition to processing imported and domestically grown nuts and seeds, he had the novel idea to dye pistachios a bright red color. This was done
for two reasons – first, improved aesthetics which attracted new consumers to the product, but also to cover the naturally
occurring stains left on pistachio shells from the nut’s outer husk, which is removed at the time of harvesting. These red
nuts were sold in penny vending machines during the depression, which offered those hard on their luck a treat that also packed some essential protein and fiber. (below, nuts with outer husks in a pistachio orchard).


Pistachios

Although un-dyed or natural pistachios were processed as well, red pistachios soon became a hallmark  of the company,
and fueled the ongoing debate of pistachio preference, natural or red. Red pistachios were renamed “Red Lip” pistachios
by Frank Sr., who incorporated the phrase in packaging and promotions.


Red Lip Pistachios




In the ’50 and 60’s, the company moved from the regional market to a national producer of nuts.  By the 1960’s,
the Germack’s were importing 20,000 tons of pistachios, or more than 40% of the entire  crop of three exporting
countries. Helping Frank Sr. was Frank Jr. – now back from a tour of duty in  Korea and finished with a Law
Degree from the University of Detroit. Frank Germack Jr. grew the Company by specializing on a select list of
nuts and seeds which were always processed and shipped  within days, often times arriving still warm from the
roaster. He used the buying power of the company to ensure the highest grade and freshest product. Finally, he
used his sales skills to convince national retailers to carry nut products in the Company’s signature 5 lb. paper
bags, a much larger package than otherwise available - the only other size was a round vacuum packed 12 oz.
tin of Pistachios. The factory became a destination for Eastern Market shoppers seeking the fresh roasted product,
especially during the Holiday Season.


  Germack letterhead circa 1960's



The company operated out of facility in the Eastern Market on E. Vernor
Highway (later renamed E. Fisher Freeway
for the new highway system built
at the time). The factory had two floors – the top for roasting,  and the main floor for
packing, storage and a retail store. Much of the roasting process was
done by sight and taste, as nuts had different characteristics even between batches of the same type of nut. Pistachios were roasted in cylindrical rotating ovens, and
then the nuts were salted and dyed in mixers before
cooled and packed on the floor below.

  Detroit News article circa 1966

In 1976, the neighboring Stroh Brewery acquired the entire 1300 block of E. Fisher to expand their brewing operations,
and the Company moved to St. Aubin and E. Milwaukee St.(below) Here, a state of the art factory was built with the
capacity to handle the thriving international business. Under Frank Jr.’s leadership, the Germack Pistachio Company
was able to compete with conglomerates that were steadily entering the nut processing market. He became known internationally as an expert and was invited to share his  knowledge of the business with other countries that sought
entrance into the nut processing business.


  Germack building circa 1980

In 1980, the City of Detroit tore down the building and hundreds of other structures in the area to create an industrial
park operated by General Motors, Cadillac division. The factory was moved once again, this time to Bellevue Street in
the shadow of the former Packard Motor Company complex. (below) In 1984, a street improvement project cut off
access to Bellevue street from larger avenues, so the company sought a new location.


Germack location circa 1984

In 1985, the company returned to East Fisher Freeway in the Eastern Market, not more than 50 yards
from the location of the original factory. The retail store is at this location, while a newer factory
was acquired in 2000 to better accommodate roasting, shipping and cold storage. (See factory tour).


Germack location circa 2000

The company has endured into the third generation, and now the fourth generation of Germacks.
With changing consumer tastes, Germack Pistachio has added over 100 new products including
dried fruits and healthy mixes, in addition to gourmet chocolate covered nuts and special Christmas
items. We are also one of the nation’s largest producers of squash (pumpkin) and sunflower seeds.


  Germack Fancy Mixed Nuts circa 1975

We are proud to be a partner with Detroit’s professional sports teams by supplying peanuts for the
Tigers, Red Wings, Pistons and Lions home games. We are a QVC Network © vendor, and work
with various distributors and direct sales partners to service our expanding business.


Germack Store
 
Our retail store (above) located in Detroit's Historic Eastern Market
Hours are M-F, 8 am to 4:40 pm; Saturday 8:30 am to 12 Noon - Store # 313-566-0062

We're located at 


Our mission is to provide the freshest and highest quality product, and maintain our
leadership position with superior service. We are committed to our customers’ satisfaction
and are loyal to our roots in the City of Detroit and in Michigan.

Take an online tour of our factory - click here to view the video.