It was my ArtCenter roommate, Scott, the Aussie film major, who had turned me on to the movie “The Coca-Cola Kid,” a 1985, Australian, romantic comedy, starring a young Eric Roberts and the gorgeous Greta Scacchi. I’m not even certain it was ever released to American theaters, but I forever had it on VHS, and not just because of the Mrs. Santa Claus scene. Think of it as the soda pop version of the film “You’ve Got Mail” and there’s your basic storyline. Besides my favorite bands, like Genesis, and certain models of cars, like the Corvette, I wasn’t really fanatical. Being from North Jersey, a rite of passage was to choose your sides when it came time to decide which ‘home’ team you would root for, because New Jersey had no home teams and New York had two of each. So, it came down to Giants or Jets? Giants, but I was a Jet fan when Joe Namath was their quarterback. Mets or Yankees? Yankees, but I was a Met fan when Tom Seaver was their pitcher. Knicks or Nets? Seriously? However, when it came to Coke or Pepsi, it was a decision made long before I even had a say.
My family – parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles alike - were all Coca-Cola drinkers. It wasn’t until junior high that I began a serious addiction to Mountain Dew, a PepsiCo billion dollar brand with the mysterious green flavor and 55 mg of caffeine per can – nearly double that of a typical red can of Coke. In my junior high graphic arts shop class, we were given an assignment to do an ad for any product of our liking, so naturally I chose my signature Mountain Dew. The campaign, ten years before the agency Wieden+Kennedy came up with the Nike version, was simply, “Just Dew It.” By March of 2005, I had in fact done it. Gary hired me for that position, and by April 5th I was moving my shit from The Prism to Bldg. Mmm, just across the parking lot, but the complete other side of the company. After five years in Perfumery, not counting my history prior to Firmenich, I was now in the Flavor business.
That was about seventeen years ago, and next week I'll start my 24th year with Firmenich. During my HR orientation I was told the average length of stay for an employee was sixteen years. The average. I can't imagine that's the case today, but as many of my colleagues, friends, and bosses alike have themselves long since retired after three decades or more with the company - including Alice, Robert, Steven, and Gary - there are many of us following in their footsteps. Going into 2023 it's safe to say that change is inevitable. Firmenich will no longer be a family business, after some 127 years, as the company merges with DSM - a Dutch, purpose-led, science-based, multinational company specializing in Nutrition, Health, and Sustainable Living. The team may be moving into the so-called big leagues, but I'm eternally grateful for the privilege of having been in the game as long as I have, and remain a loyal player and fan no matter the line-up, roster, logotype or mascot.