• The Snack Heard round the World

    In early November, when Soren Larson visited GSA for the second time since graduating in 1979, he had an appointment with Assistant Head of School Libby Rosemeier ’77, but he wasn’t here to catch up on gossip. He was here to research a story for one of the world’s largest news agencies.

         Larson works for the New York bureau of Reuters producing videos, a job that wasn’t really on his mind when he was a student at George Stevens Academy. But as many will tell you, the path from high school to career success is rarely straight.

         Larson enjoyed his time at GSA, which he called “a very good school with some very good teachers,” in a recent email. “I remember specifically Mr. Marshall and Mr. Blair, both English teachers. I also liked Mr. Bennatti and Mr. Farrar, who I learned architecture and woodworking from.” Those skills proved useful later on.

         After graduation, Larson took some time off, then studied at the University of Maine at Orono. In 1985, he moved to New York, where he did odd jobs for a year or two, painting, carpentry, and the like. After taking some classes, he decided to give video production a shot, and it seems to have been a good decision.

         Larson produced corporate video for Salomon Brothers for five years, then was a freelance news cameraman for two more. In 1995, he started at Reuters, where he now works as a cameraman/producer and intake editor for the international news organization.

         It was as a cameraman/producer that he returned to his alma mater to interview Rosemeier and retired science teacher Roger Bennatti for a video story about a science experiment that had gone on far longer than anyone expected.

         In 1976, Rosemeier was a junior in Bennatti’s chemistry class. The topic of food preservatives came up, so the teacher sent a student out to buy a package of Twinkies. He ate one promptly and set the other one on the chalkboard in his classroom.

         There the Twinkie stayed for years. Around 2006, Rosemeier said, her father, James Austin, built a display case to hold the now-desiccated snack cake. The case sits on a shelf in her office.

         But the video is not just sitting on a shelf somewhere. Since Larson posted it online at Reuters, the story has been picked up by other news agencies and shared by scores of newspapers, radio stations, television stations, bloggers, and individuals.

         A quick internet search revealed that the original story and versions of it have appeared in several languages and in countries around the world, including Ireland, the U.K., Spain, Ghana, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, and Japan. One video post alone, from Now This News, was viewed more than 22,000 times in two weeks.

         The popularity of Larson’s story on the 43-year-old Twinkie tells us one thing for sure: even though he had no idea when he was in high school that he’d get into the news business, he is very good at what he does and is clearly in the right career.

         But the real lesson for GSA students and high school students everywhere is that “the right career” may be one you haven’t thought of yet.

         To watch Larson’s original story on the Reuters website, click on this link.