The tale of Van Halen’s backstage candy demand is the stuff of legend and in the decades since it occurred has often acted as a kind of stand-in synonym for a highfalutin diva lifestyle, but if you believe that faulty parallel — NO BROWN M&M’s = DIVA — then you probably don’t know the full story.
The Van Halen M&M concert rider story isn’t about rock-n-roll excess or making a frivolous demand just for the sake of it. Instead, the seemingly strange and diva-like chocolate coated command was always about intelligence, safety and, above all else, an attention to the finest detail. I’ll spare you the entire explanation here but it is well worth the read.
When my family arrived at the Reno / Tahoe airport last week we were greeted not by bowls of M&M’s or by Van Halen, but by Kia executives, a professional photographer, and a glistening white Kia Sorento with all the available bells and whistles, and also with thoughtful touches waiting inside: a cherry red fleece blanket for the kiddos in the backseat, a #SorentoFamily branded over-sized cooler bag stuffed with fresh fruit, juice boxes, protein bars, and chewy fruit snacks, and inside every cup holder was a chilled bottle of water.
But that wasn’t all that was in our snow-colored Sorento. Just for us was our very own version of a bowl of M&M’s with the brown ones removed. Tucked lovingly into the center console were two glass bottles of the finest craft root beer brewed today, Bundaberg Root Beer from Australia. Not only were there two craft root beers waiting for us in the SUV, they were somewhere in the neighborhood of 62.5 degrees Fahrenheit, the purely guessed temperature I fancy telling people that I prefer to drink my craft root beers at, basically just thisside of room temperature. It sounds absurd coming out of my mouth, and it makes people laugh and laugh at me, which is a pretty nice party trick to brighten a room.
Of course I don’t have a concert rider, never make any demands or even humble requests, and am about as close to the opposite of a diva as a person can get, but there they were, the one thing, that singular special thing that the Kia team learned about me and remembered that I enjoy. I was blown away by their attention to detail at this granular level. I was also pretty thirsty after 7 hours of flying.
We waved goodbye, pressed go on the Sorento’s Navi system’s pre-programmed route to the Ritz-Carlton hotel and drove away with delicate traces of sarsaparilla, vanilla bean and molasses appearing in every sip and forming a fragrant bouquet in our mouths. My lord was that delicious.
I’ve told you before how impressed I’ve been with the transformation Kia has and is still undergoing as a car company (I believe it so much that I dumped our family car last August and bought a Kia Sorento) and while it might seem silly to make a correlation between a pair of very good root beers and Kia’s brand-wide change, the presence of those bottles in our borrowed white Sorento as we embarked on the 2017 SorentoFamily Winter Adventure without a doubt speaks to the high level of thought and minute attention to detail every member of the Kia corporate team puts into their work.
Kia’s exhaustive, spare no expense, leave no stone unturned, top-down commitment to excellence is visible today in their cars; in the way they look, feel and drive. I got a couple of fine beverages in Tahoe at just the right temperature but everyone who buys a Kia nowadays is getting so much more, they are getting the automotive equivalent of a bowl of M&M’s sans the brown ones.
Photos by Cielo Roth Photography.