57 Ways to be a Brother
I have been thinking about Heinz 57 for the past couple of days. While I tend to think of it only as a steak sauce, its name actually came from the 57 varieties of products made by the H. J. Heinz Company located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The first product marketed under the slogan “57 Varieties” was prepared horseradish in 1896. The company’s Beefsteak Sauce was renamed Heinz 57 Steak Sauce in 1940 and has been a best seller since then.
The reason I even started thinking about the number 57 was that Sunday was my brother’s 57th birthday. That also means that Ernest was born in 1957.
In many ways, our relationship has been a lot like the many products of the Heinz Company. We are as different as Heinz Mock Turtle Soup and Heinz Pure Malt Vinegar. We may share the same last name but we seem to be made of different ingredients.
We shared the same room until I went off to college. That was enough for a lifetime, as we don’t even stay on the same floor of a hotel now.
We went to different colleges, pursued different degrees, liked different music and drove different type cars. We read different books, watched different movies, and danced to different drummers.
I was studious and serious, and Ernest was carefree and popular. I would worry about who I was going to ask for a date and he would smile with his dimples and the girls would come running.
My first car was a Plymouth Fury I and his first was a Monte Carlo SS Coupe. I saved my allowance and he would spend his last nickel. I was a fair athlete and he was a truly natural talent at every sport.
I wanted to be like him. He wanted to be like me.
Amazingly, we both found our way back to our family’s peanut company. It was large enough that we worked in different divisions in different states. Thirty years ago we became partners in our own company.
“How can you be so different and still work together?” some would ask. Maybe that was the secret to our success. The truth is that even though we are very different we have always been best friends. We live next door to each other and have watched our children grow up.
We have different responsibilities in our company and truly compliment each other’s strengths and weaknesses. It is sort of like God made us different so we wouldn’t get in each other’s way.
We are different in 57 different ways, but we are alike in all the ways that count. We believe in hard work. We value each other’s trust. Like an old married couple, we don’t go to bed mad. That doesn’t mean we don’t still fight like brothers, but we never let it come between us.
Ernest is not just my brother. He is my neighbor, partner, confidant and friend. We have each other’s back. I am fortunate to have him as a daily part of my life.
I wasn’t sure if he would know what the Heinz 57 Steak Sauce meant when he opened his birthday present, so I wrote this article to tell him.
Happy Birthday, Ernest!
Dan Ponder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org