Michelin Stars: The Surprising Link Between Gourmet Dining and Tires

Michelin Stars are a hallmark of culinary excellence, and receiving one is a dream for many chefs. But did you know that this prestigious award has its roots in a tire company? Here’s the fascinating story of how the Michelin Guide became one of the most respected names in the world of fine dining, all thanks to a smart business strategy by the Michelin brothers in the early 20th century.

What Are Complementary Goods?

In economics, complementary goods are products whose sales mutually reinforce each other. For instance, if you purchase a coffee maker, you are likely to buy coffee filters too. In this example, coffee makers and coffee filters are complementary goods.

The Michelin Brothers’ Challenge

In the early 1900s, the Michelin brothers were trying to build a successful tire business. However, cars were still a novelty, and not many people owned them or traveled long distances. This posed a challenge for the Michelin brothers, as there was limited demand for their tires.

Inspiration for The Michelin Guide

Driven by the need to create a demand for their tires, the Michelin brothers devised an ingenious plan to encourage people to travel by car. They recognized that one of the impediments to travel during that era was the difficulty in finding good places to eat, sleep, or refuel.

This realization led to the creation of the Michelin Guide. Initially, the guide was distributed for free and included valuable information for travelers, such as listings of the best places to eat, sleep, and find gasoline.

The Unexpected Legacy

While it’s challenging to determine exactly how much the Michelin Guide contributed to the adoption of automobiles, what’s certain is that the auto industry experienced rapid growth. The guide gradually gained prestige for its restaurant reviews, and the Michelin Stars became coveted symbols of culinary mastery.

Nowadays, with the advent of smartphones and the internet, people have a plethora of resources at their fingertips for finding restaurants and other amenities. Nonetheless, the Michelin Star remains a highly esteemed accolade for restaurateurs.


The Michelin Guide is a remarkable example of how innovative thinking can not only solve immediate business challenges but also leave an enduring legacy. From a tire company’s strategy to a symbol of culinary achievement, the Michelin Stars continue to dazzle the world of gastronomy.