Coca-Cola kid: more than just a label

Junior Phil Jacobson stores candy bars and soda cans in his third floor locker. (Photo by Branden Miles)

The junior hallway is quite the scene in between classes. Peering through the mass of shuffling bodies, you might be able to spot one of the more unique members of the school community: a spectacled, black-clothed student taking candy bars and soda cans from his locker and putting them into his backpack. He is junior Phil Jacobson, but you might know him as “the Coca-Cola kid” or “that guy who keeps candy and soda in his locker.”

Jacobson is soft-spoken, but what he eats and drinks on a daily basis is what speaks volumes to most people. On an average day, according to Jacobson, he consumes a plethora of candy, including but not limited to Hershey’s, AirHeads, Reese’s and Snickers. And to wash it all down, he has a few cans of Coca-Cola, sprinkled with shots of 5-hour Energy and occasionally a can of Monster Energy.

He spends $25 or more a week buying several 12-packs of Coca-Cola and a few 36-bar boxes of Hershey’s and other candies, which he keeps in custom-built wooden shelves that fit perfectly inside his 3-square-foot locker.

Jacobson said he has been, and still is, misunderstood by students and faculty for what he puts in his body. However, he said he has valid reasons for his choices, similar to those of many other students.

“Honestly, I drink the soda with caffeine because I get really tired. I eat the candy because I hate the food here,” Jacobson said. “I can be misunderstood, but I don’t pay attention to that.”

What separates Jacobson from other students, however, is that he has hyperthyroidism, a condition in which the body’s metabolism is greatly heightened because of an overproduction of thyroid hormones. According to the Mayo Clinic, this can result in weight loss, increased appetite and fatigue.

One could associate these symptoms with those exhibited by Jacobson, who weighs 120 pounds and has not gained weight since seventh grade. However, he noted that he is not sure if his condition has a direct impact on his body or his eating habits.

“I really don’t care about it, and it’s nothing that I really notice,” he said. “I’m probably living with it, though.”

Not many people know about Jacobson’s condition, but most people see him giving away, for free, the majority of his candy and soda to students and faculty.

“I really don’t care. Why not?” Jacobson said. “When you’re walking down the street, why do you give a homeless person some money? There’s not a reason for it; it’s just who I am.”

At one point this year, Jacobson collected optional donations from those who wished to thank him monetarily. However, he recently stopped after a science teacher twice accused him of selling soda, which is banned in schools by a 2010 Massachusetts state law. According to Jacobson, these episodes are the only instances when a faculty member has confronted him about the legality of his candy and soda.

Regardless of his public presence in the junior hallway and in the rest of the school, Jacobson believes that he is an ordinary student.

“I have individual features, like the soda, but I blend into the masses,” he said. “I exist, no more and no less.”

Colby Bermel can be contacted at [email protected]