is the word that sticks in my mind as I reflect on the life of Dr. Aaron Brody. He was a giant in food technology, food packaging, and chilled foods. He knew what he believed and was never afraid to express his opinion. He was in the room when the microwave oven was born. Starburst and Peanut M&Ms were in his development portfolio. He was at the forefront of food packaging innovation—paper, plastic or other forms. Anyone who has ever used a microwave oven or opened a packaged food has been touched by this man. I was even more fortunate to know him as a fierce adversary, colleague, co-instructor, guest lecturer, assumption challenger, thought stimulator, mentor, and friend. He was a bundle of contradictions: hated academic culture but a master teacher; gruff to the point of being offensive but a friend I could count on; old-school but innovative. I could go on.
I remember Aaron for
- chewing me out on the IFT Exhibition floor the first time we met because I had helped reject a Symposium proposal on Dual-ovenable Packaging,
- applying to join our faculty as an adjunct professor to teach packaging causing me to wonder if I could ever get along with this man,
- bringing an industry perspective by teaching food packaging to eager undergrad and graduate students,
- traipsing through meat processing plants, chilled food warehouses, and behind the scenes at a supermarket, to teach students and me how the real world handles chilled foods,
- delighting students in my Chocolate Science class with his tales about his interactions with Forrest Mars, a man even more eccentric than himself,
- nominating me to be an IFT Fellow, an honor I cherish,
- chastising me when we folded food packaging instruction into an expanded version of food processing courses,
- contributing to my blog on such topics as plastic food packaging, his life as a food technologist, and feeding a diverse population,
- making acerbic comments to blog posts under the guise of ‘cantankerous me,’ and
- sending me a gut-wrenching email on the passing of his beloved wife.
Thank you, Aaron, for enriching my life. Thank you for being my friend and mentor. I miss you.