Why Soda Expires in the Houses of the Super-Rich

Spelling Manor

“Getting the details right was especially important when there were several houses, so that consistency could be maintained from property to property in the remotes for television sets, the controls for lighting and security systems, the organization of kitchen and bathroom cupboards. Principals did not want to fumble around, lost in their own houses. Ms. Fowler used Excel spreadsheets to stock refrigerators with soft drinks, then lined up and photographed the contents so that a glance would tell what needed replenishment. She religiously checked the expiration dates on cans of soda: if you own seven houses and each has as many as six refrigerators—two in the kitchen, one in the garage or storeroom, one in the pool house, one in the master suite, one in the screening room—for a total of forty-two refrigerators, it’s possible that years could pass before a can of soda is opened.”

In the January issue of Harper’s, John P. Davidson discusses his time at The Starkey Institute, a “butler boot camp” which certifies estate managers to work for the super-rich (the story is currently only available to magazine subscribers). See more stories from Harper’s.

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Photo of Spelling Manor: Atwater Village Newbie

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Mike Dang
Mike is the managing editor at Longreads, and the editor of The Billfold. He has written for Bloomberg Businessweek, Pacific Standard, and the Chicago Tribune, among other publications.