This is a copy of the 1912 edition of the Michelin Guide to France. Most of you have probably heard of Michelin star restaurants, but some of you may not be familiar with how it all started.
First published in 1904, the Michelin Guide is, as you might suspect, a product of French tire company Michelin. And since the beginning, this free guide has had a pretty clear objective: Its goal was to get you to drive more.
At the turn of the 20th century, there were only a few thousand cars on the road in France. This guide tried to change that by giving you places to go, as well as telling you where to stop along the way should you need to change a tire or two.
However, its famous starred ranking system for restaurants was not introduced until 1931, and the criteria for said ranking was not revealed until a few years later:
- One Star: “A very good restaurant in its category” (Une très bonne table dans sa catégorie)
- Two Stars: “Excellent cooking, worth a detour” (Table excellente, mérite un détour)
- Three Stars: “Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey” (Une des meilleures tables, vaut le voyage)
Curiously enough, Canada has no Michelin star restaurants. I’m not exactly sure why, but I have heard that it’s because we’re not giving money to the right people. Maybe that’s wrong. I don’t know.
I do, however, find it interesting that this celebrated restaurant ranking system started as a marketing tool for motorists. Oftentimes you never know where a new idea might lead you.
P.S. I’m also not sure how the above 1912 copy is the 13th edition when the first Michelin Guide was supposedly published in 1904.