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The World’s First Spiked Sparkling Coconut Water Makes A National Splash

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2021 — Two women drink the first sparkling spiked coconut water in a park.
Within just five months of launching what they say is the world’s first all-natural ready-to-drink spiked coconut water, makers of the Sunboy sparkling coconut cocktail beverage are already shipping to more than half the United States, and they credit some of their success not to rich backers or celebrity sponsors but to a modern distribution model that builds a brand online before marketing it on the ground.
By successfully showing off New York City-based Sunboy on the internet through same-day home delivery — before spending time and money convincing traditional distributors to carry it, retailers to sell it and customers to buy it — owners Luke McKenna and Yair Tygiel pitched it straight to consumers who helped generate immediate buzz. 
“Engage your consumers right away on the internet and see what they’re saying about it. Then go to stores and say, ‘Hey look at all this demand we have,’” says Jason Sherman, founder of the TapRm online distribution platform that’s taking Sunboy national. “That’s why Luke and Yair have grown as fast as they have. It normally takes years.”
Sherman calls this a pull, rather than a push, model, which means interested buyers are asking for the product, AKA “pulling” it, instead of being on the receiving end of a “push” to get the package on shelves and in bars. He believes this approach works particularly well with new categories run by savvy marketers — just like he credits Sunboy for. 
“This is not something where someone’s going to see it and say, ‘I know what this tastes like.’ New categories have to convince consumers they ever want to pick up this type of product, and the best way is to walk them through it online,” says Sherman. “Once you do really well on the pull side then you can really start pushing.”
Launched in May 2021, Sunboy, which currently comes in four-pack 12 oz. cans of 5% ABV pineapple, passion fruit, mango and tangerine for $14 each, has just started selling direct-to-consumer in 33 states through TapRm and is poised to enter New Jersey and Connecticut’s brick-and-mortar market. 
“We’re about to sell out of our launch batch and create much more in December to satisfy demand in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut,” says co-founder Luke McKenna, who anticipates expanding further after a second friends-and-family round of fundraising and potentially some initial investment from venture capitalists. “With distribution to 33 states, we’ll gauge interest around the country. I would love to see all this pent up demand somewhere like southwest Georgia.” 
Sunboy already entered the physical shelf space at a few Manhattan and Brooklyn Whole Foods WFM markets — a notable feat considering the grocery chain has implemented a moratorium on new spiked seltzers.
“So many seltzers are the same fizzy water with alcohol,” McKenna says, as a point of comparison against his gluten-free, no sugar-added coconut cocktails. “The power of high quality juices means we don’t need to sweeten. It’s a little higher calorically than White Claw (spiked seltzer) but lower than a cocktail.”
McKenna and Tygiel enlisted the assistance of international food scientist Andrey Ayrapetov to design recipes and source what they say are top-quality ingredients, including barreled coconut water from the Philippines, which can be frozen, unlike fresh coconuts that risk rotting at backed-up post-pandemic ports. 
This means Sunboy can exist, says McKenna, who’s learned from searching the world for quality coconuts that he prefers the “beautiful nuttiness” of southeast Asian coconuts over those sourced in the Caribbean, and finds Filipino coconuts “just a little less sweet than from Thailand.”
Global shipping issues aside, McKenna says international supply has grown to meet contemporary demand for the tropical fruit, which means Sunboy can presumably enjoy longevity without risking running out. Though he and his partner developed the concept last year when the pandemic shut down their previous enterprise, the pair has been slinging coconuts together for almost a decade after meeting at a dinner party and discovering their mutual passion.
McKenna, a former financial journalist, first got into the coconut game by setting up an illegal coconut stand as a way to make friends when he moved to Toronto, and Tygiel had been hosting coconut “hangs” in Brooklyn parks. The two began hosting parties in the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge where they’d sell cold cracked coconuts from a delivery bike they decorated with tiki torches. 
“It was very much a subversive thing,” laughs McKenna, who admits to paying off the police from their stash. 
 “The coconut is a pretty powerful bribe. I think they saw the silliness of it themselves,” he says.
The partners went on to create CoCo & Co, which had them searing highly recognizable corporate brand names onto the fruit’s shell and selling or giving away these sponsored coco water or cocktail creations at events like the annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. Coincidentally, they were a highlight of my visit there around four years ago (sponsored by Molson Coors TAP ), long before officially meeting them for this story a few months ago. That said, McKenna had to remind me that Marriott Envoy had paid for that particular treat, raising the argument that the majority of people sucking this type of tropical elixir through a straw perhaps notice/care much more about the coconut and their cameras than the corporation paying for their experience.
But as a life-long coconut lover (full disclosure: I named my first cat Coconut, and my full name, Tamara, means palm tree in Hebrew) who happily spruced up some marginal tequila with a sample can of passion fruit Sunboy this past summer, I’m looking forward to what appears to be a sunny future, at least in the short term. Sherman says approximately 70% of products that launch on TapRm either make major changes or go out of business.
“Our platform allows breweries and brand founders to test to see if their brand has any customer retention and/or traction. A lot them will put products up just to test: concepts, taste, slogans, names, liquid, etc.,” he emails.
“Also, we’ve seen a huge increase in the amount of hard seltzer brands emerge on our platform overall in the last 6 months. Given the sudden growth stagnation that they couldn’t foresee in the seltzer category, most of them are rolling the brands down or changing their direction because of performance and lack of interest from customers, distributors, and chain retail,” he says.

I’m the beer and spirits contributor to Forbes — a freelancer who primarily covers lifestyle trends with a focus on craft beer, alcohol and culinary tourism and their

I’m the beer and spirits contributor to Forbes — a freelancer who primarily covers lifestyle trends with a focus on craft beer, alcohol and culinary tourism and their impact on economic development. Chicago Review Press is publishing my first book, the history of women in beer, on September 21, 2021. My writing has been published in Food Wine, Wine Enthusiast, USA Today and many additional media outlets, which has won me 1st place awards in business writing and commentary from the North American Guild of Beer Writers; a 1st place business writing award from the NJ Society of Professional Journalists and the Food Writer of the Year designation in a competition hosted by the Wine School of Philadelphia. I co-founded Ferment Your Event to lead craft beer pairings and seminars (specialty is beer chocolate), and I teach the Craft of Beer course at Wilmington University. I volunteer as the archivist for the international Pink Boots Society for the advancement of women in beer and founded NJ’s original beer-education group for females. I’m an official beer judge, a Cicerone Certified Beer Server and an urban pioneer on the scenic Camden, NJ, waterfront. Please visit my website, www.taranurin.com.

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Uber Electrifying Its Ride Network With Up To 50,000 Of Hertz’s New Teslas

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Uber has a new program to get its drivers using Tesla’s leased from Hertz.
Uber, which wants more of its drivers using zero-emissions vehicles, is partnering with Hertz to put up to half of the 100,000 Teslas the rental car company is buying from Elon Musk’s electric-automaker into operation on its network—with the first cars entering service next week. 
By 2023 the San Francisco-based rideshare giant hopes to have drivers using as many as 50,000 Teslas across its U.S. network, via a preferred weekly lease program with Hertz and added enticements to encourage use of the vehicles. The program would be the largest EV initiative to date for any rideshare service in the U.S., kicking off on Nov. 1 in cities including San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and Washington D.C., Uber says. It will expand to additional cities in the coming weeks. 
“This new program with Hertz aims to create positive environmental benefits by reaching rental drivers, who are often looking to offer rides for more hours and more miles than the average driver,” Andrew Macdonald, Uber’s senior vice president for mobility and business operations, said in a blog post today. “Research shows that when rideshare drivers go electric, they realize three- to four-times greater emissions savings than average car owners.”
Uber’s program with Hertz comes on the heels of the rental company’s bombshell plans to buy at least $4 billion worth of Teslas, the biggest such fleet order for its vehicles in company history. News of Hertz’s plan sent Tesla shares surging to a record high and pushed the company’s market cap past the $1 trillion level. It also dramatically boosted Tesla CEO Musk’s net worth to more than $253.8 billion Forbes estimates, making him far and away the world’s richest person.  
In 2020 Uber said it would commit $800 million over five years to get drivers to switch to EVs from gasoline autos with a long-term goal of all rides on its platform being zero-emission by 2040. Hertz has provided a vehicle rental program for Uber drivers since 2016 and the Tesla initiative builds on that. 
Starting next week Uber drivers can rent Teslas from Hertz for $334 a week, and the rate will drop to $299 per week as the program expands. The fee includes insurance and vehicle maintenance costs. Drivers will also get incentives through Uber’s Green Future Program that includes $1 more per trip for electric vehicle rides (up to $4,000 per year). They’ll have access to Tesla’s Superchargers and also receive discounted charging rates at EVgo stations, according to Macdonald.
“While this partnership is a step forward to advance electrification on the Uber platform, it’s important to note that owning an electric vehicle is still too often more expensive than a traditional gas-powered vehicle,” he said. “This is a critical challenge that we all must continue tackling together with government leaders through smart policy to bring the cost of EV ownership in line with or below gas-powered cars.”
Uber shares rose less than 1% to $46.02 in New York Stock Exchange trading on Tuesday. 

I track technology-driven changes that reshape how we get around from Los Angeles, America’s sunny capital of congestion.

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Pink Dial Project Raises Money For Breast Cancer Awareness

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Ball Watch Engineer Hydrocarbon Hope Unique Piece.
The Breast Cancer Awareness campaign, annually slated for October, was launched in 1985 with the intention to educate the public about this too-common disease and raise money to ultimately find a cure. Today this collaborative effort, which has grown significantly in size and geography since its inception, comprises a variety of activities and organizations with a common purpose and an often-global reach.
This month many companies are opening their hearts and donating to this important initiative. So, too, a number of watch companies have stepped up this year with the Pink Dial Project, an auction hosted by Loupe This to benefit various breast cancer charities. The auction began today and ends October 31.
Revolution and The Rake partnered with Time+Tide, Fratello Watches, The Eye of Jewelry and the aforementioned Loupe This to make this charity auction happen, soliciting various watch brands to create a unique piece incorporating the color pink in its design. The best part? One-hundred percent of the proceeds from the week-long auction will be donated to the Union of International Cancer Control (UICC).
The UICC is a non-governmental organization founded in 1933, and it is based in Geneva. Member organizations include treatment and research centers, patient support groups, professional agencies and more.
The creativity shown by the brands is mind-blowing, and each of the nearly 20 companies chose to integrate the color in a variety of ways, using a variety of hues. Among them, there’s the captivating subtlety of Bvlgari’s Octo Finissimo Automatic pièce unique in black ceramic with pink-detailed small seconds and Panerai’s Piccolo Due in Goldtech with a pink mother-of-pearl dial.
Then there’s the boldness of the near-fuchsia dial of the IWC BP43, as well as the TAG Heuer Aquaracer Pink Ribbon with diamond hour markers, demonstrating yet another perspective on the theme. Piaget’s Gala is memorable with a pink sapphire bezel and pink hour and minute hands, while the M.A.D. 1’s winding rotor and the time display received a special pink treatment just for this event.
Thoughtfully, Montblanc’s 1858 Geosphere was assembled by a female watchmaker at the company’s atelier, and its fuchsia pink dial is in gorgeous contrast to its black DLC titanium case.
Ball Watch’s Engineer Hydrocarbon Hope, inspired by the Engineer Hydrocarbon Ceramic XV from 2011, uses varying shades of pink to add interest and contrast. The watch has a 36mm stainless steel case—the smallest model within this well-known collection, and a pink dial with Ball’s iconic gas tube indexes, also in pink. The gas tubes require no external source of light or energy while being up to 100 times more efficient than the usual luminous paints. The Hope’s ceramic unidirectional rotating bezel is in a differing shade of rose. Chronometer certified, it is fitted with the caliber BALL RR 1101-C, which powers the hours, minutes, seconds and date.
The auction pieces, numbering nearly twenty, demonstrate the focused design process used to create a watch. They also demonstrate what good can come from an industry when it bands together for a greater purpose.

I have been in the publishing industry for over 20 years and have written extensively about writing instruments, watches, jewelry and accessories for consumer and trade

I have been in the publishing industry for over 20 years and have written extensively about writing instruments, watches, jewelry and accessories for consumer and trade magazines. During this time I have visited many of the world’s most prestigious writing instrument and watch manufacturers, and I particularly enjoy interviewing artists, designers and corporate executives to understand their motivations and perspectives. I have served as editor for various luxury publications, and am a former owner of Pen World magazine and editor of Stylus magazine and the Stylus Annual, a yearly compendium of the major pen brands—their histories, news and products. I have been a keynote speaker at a variety of collector events and trade shows, and I have been quoted in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and International Herald Tribune, among others, for my expertise in writing instruments and timepieces. I am currently managing editor at iW magazine and owner of Nancy Olson, Ink., a marketing company based in Houston.

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Jim Brickman Plans A Holiday Tour To Remember

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Jim Brickman
Jim Brickman is bringing a lot of joy to his fans this holiday season with a new album and a dynamic winter tour. He always dreamed of recording an album with a symphony orchestra, and that dream came true with A Christmas Symphony. His upcoming concert tour, The Gift of Christmas Live! In Concert, will offer audiences a chance to hear his greatest hits alongside holiday classics. He spoke with us about his new album, upcoming tour, his connection to his hometown, and more.
Jim Brickman with a symphony.
What inspired you to record A Christmas Symphony?
I play with symphonies. Over my career I’ve played with a lot of symphony orchestras and whenever I play my music with them, it’s like it comes to life. The strings are soaring and so are the woodwinds, and it’s just such an amazing thing to hear my music brought to life like that. I adore all the colors and all the circumstance of that; it’s really, really good.
What was the experience like of recording it? Did you do much of it virtually?
I did a lot of it virtually, but I also did some of it in the studio myself. Some recordings were done via live streams with me at a distance, so that was really cool.
And this is your first time doing a holiday album with a symphony?
It is. I’ve done so many holiday albums. This time, I really wanted it to be something that was unique and that sounded like Christmas. I wanted it to be a really joyful for Christmas this year because of what’s been going on in the world. I didn’t want it to be melancholy or somber. I felt like I wanted to be more celebratory.
What would you say are the biggest rewards of making this holiday album?
I would say bringing the whole thing to such a spectacular level. I was able to do things that I wasn’t able to do before, like recording “The Nutcracker”. It’s very hard to do something like “The Nutcracker” on solo piano. You kind of have to have all the colors of the woodwinds. It takes you away to that place that so many of us go at Christmas time, and it’s so magical. So, I really just absolutely loved doing it.
I had some great help with orchestrators. I have the wonderful Broadway star Kelli O’Hara on the album, and I’ve always been a huge fan of her voice. I also have Five for Fighting on it. So it’s really eclectic but also celebratory and classic. There’s a very nostalgic quality to it from these times when people would watch Christmas specials with Dean Martin or Andy Williams. They always had strings and a symphony behind them. This album is very nostalgic, I think, for people to hear those kind of arrangements.
What inspired your collaboration with Five for Fighting? That’s interesting.
We’ve written before. We actually wrote a Christmas song a couple years ago, and they invited me to be in one of their Christmas TV specials. I suggested this arrangement I had of all of the Christmas hymns in a medley where you did “Greensleeves”, “What Child is This?”, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”, and all of these songs. I had them arranged in a way that was a medley instead of just song by song. We performed that in a live special, and then I just adapted the recording for this.
Over the years I’ve always believed in having a very eclectic mix of people on my albums, I think listeners appreciate the eclectic nature of what I’ve done when it comes to guest vocalists.
A Christmas Symphony, an album by Jim Brickman
I see that you’re kicking off The Gift of Christmas Live! In Concert holiday tour of the United States during the Thanksgiving weekend. What can the audience expect from the show?
Well, there is always a little bit of a reflection. My holiday concerts are always nostalgic and very family-oriented. I always play my hit songs because I know people want to hear those along with the Christmas music. So it’s kind of like Christmas music, my hit songs, and other favorites. I always have a female vocalist, a male vocalist, and an electric violin player. However, I never have a full band.
There’s a lot of variety. There’s a lot of humor, and it’s always a very comfortable and emotional celebration. It has its happy moments, tender moments, and funny moments. I try to make it an escape for people to laugh and not think about anything. I hope they just let the music flow and let the gathering be the focus of what we do together.
That’s great. You mentioned your hits. Can you share some of the other songs that you’ll be performing on this tour?
Well I always do “The Gift”, which is one of my most popular Christmas songs. I still do things like “Valentine”, because even though it’s Christmas, people want to hear that. I perform “Simple Things”, “Love of My Life”, “Destiny”, and a lot of these hits. Also, of course, brand new songs. I have a collaboration this year that’s not on this album with a newcomer group called The Sharpe Family Singers, and so there’s a brand new song that I think is going to be a huge hit with this group. They’re a very popular TikTok sensation. I think they’re so talented, and so we’re going to do a song I wrote for them as well and some brand new songs, too.
Jim Brickman
I see that your tour starts in Cleveland on November 16, 2021, and ends on New Year’s Eve in Phoenix, Arizona. I know you’ve done lots of traveling for tours in your career. Do you have any favorite cities that you always like to visit when you tour?
Well, I have to say that my hometown, Cleveland, is always my favorite because it’s where I grew up. All the venues that I play now in Cleveland are the ones where I used to see the bands and musicians I admired growing up. To me, there’s something about playing in your hometown where you were inspired to do what you do. So that’s always a favorite. I do love Phoenix, too.
In so many ways, it’s not so much the cities as it is the theaters in these places. Some of the most beautiful theaters around were restored Broadway-style theaters and places like the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix where the acoustics are perfection. It’s a truly intimate place. There are many favorite places, but usually it has to do with the experience in the theater. The audience supports that by having that same feeling about their community.
Hartford is another one where I have a special fondness for the theater and the people there because they were one of the cities that really started my career. The people of Hartford were really big advocates for me early on.
When you’re not working ,do you like to travel?
Yes, just this past week I was in New York, Salt Lake City, and Minneapolis.
Jim Brickman
What were some of the challenges of putting together this tour with the pandemic going on?
Well the most important thing is safety. Safety for my crew is a priority. I’m not going to put anybody in my crew in any sort of dangerous situation. It’s challenging still. We have a lot of work to do to accomplish this tour if it’s going to happen. There are certain places that are going to be challenging for us to do, and we’re just trying to take precautions to assess certain cities and make some decisions about how we’re going to handle each safety concern to ensure the well-being of everyone.
What has been the biggest surprise of your career so far?
I think the incredible opportunities that I’ve been given to work with people I admire and to collaborate with so many talented people over the years. I’m awed by the longevity of fans’ connection with my music. I was surprised by the fact that it wasn’t a fluke like a lot of people’s careers. I love that people continue to come every year to the Christmas show 25 years later. To me, I love that it has lasted as long as it has.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about what you’ve been doing lately?
Just that I love to advocate for young musicians. I love to see young people at my concerts. We do a lot of philanthropic work for musicians. We did philanthropic work for the Actors Fund to help entertainment workers. We’ve been trying to help performing arts centers around the country and help fund them so they can continue because live performing is so important. I always encourage people, when they can, to support the arts in their community because it’s such an important part of life.
Tickets to Jim Brickman’s The Gift of Christmas Live! In Concert are on sale now.

I am a vegan travel journalist and the author of ‘Santa’s First Vegan Christmas.’ I wrote my first novel when I was seven years old, and my love of storytelling has only

I am a vegan travel journalist and the author of ‘Santa’s First Vegan Christmas.’ I wrote my first novel when I was seven years old, and my love of storytelling has only continued to grow. I studied writing at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. My work can be seen in Reader’s Digest, USAToday.com, Grok Nation, HelloGiggles, Paste Magazine, Insider, Collider, and many other publications. Through surviving deep trauma, I learned to appreciate every merry moment the world has to offer. So, I travel in pursuit of incredible vegan food, plant-based spa treatments, beautiful sights, cultural attractions, and opportunities to learn or try something new. Along the way, I often have my arms around a rescued animal and my nose in a book. I’m also a long-time fairy tale and Disney enthusiast, so I have experienced a lot of Disney adventures I love to share with readers.

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