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Written on June 16, 2022.

Juneteenth is a national holiday dedicated to not only the end of slavery within the United States, but to also celebrate African Americans’ history, culture, and contributions.  Although it is a recent national holiday, it has been celebrated for years, and here at Flavorman, we believe in uplifting those accomplishments and achievements as well. African Americans in the past and now are making bold innovations in the beverage industry. Not only do we want to uplift those that are making drinks, but also those that have a hand in helping the beverage industry grow and reach new audiences. At Flavorman, we want to celebrate 5 people within the African diaspora who are innovators in the beverage world.

Nathan Green- Master Distiller 

There are a lot of unsung and unnoticed African Americans that have helped shape the modern world through inventions and skills. Through obscurity, Nathan Green was almost one of those individuals lost to the sands of time. Still, thanks to the research of 20 Journalists, historians, archivists, archaeologists, conservators, and genealogists, his story has been brought to the light.

Nathan Green was born into slavery and was freed with the ratification of slavery. Green was owned by a preacher named Dan Col,  and continued to work with Col in his side-hustle of distilling whisky after the ratification of slavery. Dan Col took in a boy who would later be known as “Jack Daniel” who wanted to be involved in the whisky distilling business. Not much older than Jack, Green was charged to teach him the technique of distilling Tennessee whisky. Green derived his method from West Africa called “sugar-maple-charcoal” filtering. It was also known as the “the Lincoln County process,” and it was a method of distilling whiskey that gave it a unique smoothness. Once Jack got older, he made a career selling whiskey around town and to soldiers during the civil war. When Jack got older, he bought the distilling business from Dan Col and hired Nathan, or “Uncle Nearest” as he liked to call him, as the first master distiller of Jack Daniel’s whiskey company. Jack would later employ green’s sons Eli, Lewis, and George in the business.

Nathan Green’s contribution to the whiskey industry went unnoticed for years, but his work in establishing one of the most well-known alcohol beverages shouldn’t go unnoticed. Nathan Green’s methods are not only innovative in his use of whiskey distilling at the time, but it also touches back to the African roots from which he had been ripped away, making his story and contribution more unique. Thanks to those dedicated historians, and with some endorsement from actor Jeffery Wright, Nathan Green was finally given his own whisky brand in 2019 with the Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey company. The premium whiskey has now earned 450 awards for three consecutive years, is available in all 50 states, and has been dubbed on the website as the “Malt Disney world.

 Mikaila Ulmer- Me and the Bees Lemonade 

One of the youngest entrepreneurs and beverage innovators at 17 years old, Mikaila Ulmer, is the C.E.O. and inventor of “Me and the Bees Lemonade.” Years ago, Ulmer was stung by a bee twice. To ease her pain Ulmer learned about Bees and suddenly became fascinated with what they contributed to the overall ecosystem. One day her parents told her about a Children’s Business competition, and Ulmer got the idea to use her grandmother’s “flaxseed” lemonade recipe. To make the lemonade more unique, Ulmer thought back to her fascination with bees and decided that instead of using sugar for her lemonade, she would use honey from bees. In wanting to preserve the life and the ecosystem the bees helped to maintain, Ulmer dedicates a percentage of her lemonade sales to organizations that help save bees. Ulmer’s business motto is “Buy a bottle, save a bee.”

Ulmer’s lemonade grew in popularity in Austin, Texas, and is now sold in Whole Foods, Fresh Market, World Market, and H-E-B across the state, as well as Kroger stores and Vitamin cottage natural stores. Not only does Mikaila Ulmer work with environmental organizations such as the “Healthy Hive Foundation,” but she has also published a book titled Bee Fearless, Dream Like a Kid. Ulmer’s innovations and ideas are not only in the beverage industry but also in the overall preservation of the ecosystem and the bees, which are in danger of extinction.

Marc Farrell- Ten to One Rum

A Trinidadian native, Marc Farrell not only made a delicious rum from authentic Caribbean ingredients but has also used the rum to connect more people with Caribbean culture and history. An M.I.T., Cambridge, and Harvard Business school graduate, Marc Farrell became the youngest Vice President of Starbucks. After leaving the position, Farrell became fascinated with the public perception that rum carried. Farrell wanted to take the image and connotation of rum away from its roots in slavery, pirating, and British colonialism and imbue it with Caribbean history and culture that is proud and strong.

The flavoring and ingredients of “Ten to one” rum are also authentic to Caribbean culture; the dark rum blends bourbon-aged Barbadian, Dominican, Jamaican, and Trinidadian rums with no added flavoring or sugar. The white version of the rum blends Jamaican pot-still rum and Dominican column-still rum with zesty jasmine and honeysuckle.

Marc Farrell is a trailblazer for his company and to the rum industry overall. Farrell is making his rum more authentic and closer to the culture that helped produce rum, and he is also using his product to promote other Caribbean artists with clothing brands and musicians associated with the brand, including Ciera and those of the “New Calypso” movement.

Tamala Austin- J.I.V.E. Juice 

Houston Texas native Tamala Austin is the founder and C.E.O. of a juice and smoothie company known as J.I.V.E. juice which stands for “Juice Is Very Essential.” After receiving a diagnosis of high blood pressure, Tamala started seriously thinking about her health and wellness. Around this time, she began creating juices and smoothies made from natural fruits and ingredients for herself. Eventually, Tamala started selling the juice and smoothies out of her Texas house and became famous through word-of-mouth marketing. Austin’s juice and smoothies grew more popular, and suddenly J.I.V.E. juice was born! As a certified health professional, Tamala Austin believes “Your health is your wealth. Your health is our business.”

When the company expanded, the J.I.V.E. juice company became the first business owned by an African American to be shelved and stocked in Whole Foods. Her juice and smoothies are guaranteed to help boost your energy, improve your digestion, and improve your immune system. The J.I.V.E. team can also customize drinks with the clients’ health in mind and made with natural fruit ingredients free of additive sugars or fats.

Tamala Austin and her J.I.V.E. company are innovators because they are not only making strides within the juice and beverage world but making a definitive and conscious effort to make their products healthy for the customers. Many brands and companies seek to make a profit, and while J.I.V.E. does charge, they also aim to please and help the customer for their long-term health and wellness.

Andra Aj Johnson- Beverage Director

Although she’s mainly known for being a beverage director, Andra Aj Johnson has worn multiple hats within the food and beverage industry since she was 14. An Afro-Latino who grew up in the black and urban neighborhoods of Washington, DC, Andra Johnson is a managing partner and director of her of her own restaurant and bar Serenata , a bar director, and a cocktail mixologist. As a hospitality industry leader, Andra Johnson is level 1 in the Court of master sommeliers and a Cicerone-certified beer server, is only some of the few accomplishments that demonstrate her wide-range of skills and knowledge. She also spearheads an initiative cocktail program, called “Back to Black,” which strives to raise funds and donate to overlooked and underfunded charities and organizations in Washington, DC, especially those within urban neighborhoods.

Andra Johnson is a cut above the rest for not only wearing many different hats in the food and beverage industry but also for using cocktails and drinks to tell stories. Johnson loves to use the combination of cocktail ingredients to reflect a culture, a moment in history, or her people. “Crafting cocktails is a gateway to storytelling and collaboration. Each cocktail is imbued with a meaning and a story to tell.” Andra Johnson intends to share her industry knowledge and tell more stories in her upcoming book White Plates, Black Faces.   

All kinds of people are accomplishing innovations and excellent achievements. If Juneteenth has taught us anything, it’s that we should work to recognize and celebrate the works of the different cultures we encounter in our lives. The five people we listed are certainly not the only ones making significant changes within the beverage industry. We at Flavorman encourage clients to seek and shout out people from underrepresented communities who are inventing and creating new beverages that will change how the world drinks.

Do you have a great drink idea? Our team of beverage experts can help you bring it to life—and change what the world is drinking. Get started by filling out this webform or by giving us a call at (502) 273-5214.

Written on April 15, 2022.

COVID Consumer Habits

Written by David Dafoe, Cheif Executive Officer & Founder

When I started working in the beverage industry in 1986, almost all of the beverages we created contained flavors that were natural and artificial.  The beverage landscape was quite simple, with a mix of typical soda flavors, a few juices, traditional wines, spirits, and beers sold by large companies with little to no choice for variation. These beverages, for the most part, were packaged in standard bottles and cans with relatively simple graphics, side by side on store shelves.

This was a time before wine coolers, energy drinks, ready-made cocktails, tropical juice flavors, “all-natural” health beverages, dozens of beer variations, and spirits in hundreds of categories, representing a myriad of packaging and serving styles from manufacturers large and small. The beverage industry had wildly progressed into an ever-changing mix of trends, flavors, fads, and fickle consumer preferences. Then, in 2020, we paused.

Consumer Habits

In the sudden shock of COVID, consumers were comforted with familiar flavors in beverages across all categories. Childhood favorites like watermelon, strawberry, cherry, apple, and grape saw a resurgence as consumers gravitated towards immediately recognizable flavor profiles, preferring to reach for drinks that were traditional, relatable, and familiar. It seemed like overnight, consumers had stepped back to the things they knew and understood to bring comfort and make the ridiculously absurd COVID world feel normal, at least for a moment.

Consumers quickly trended toward “ready to drink” pre-mixed alcoholic beverages that were easy to buy, store and drink.  Ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails had started to build steam in recent years, but took off like a rocket during quarantine, delivering an easy solution for consumers to drink at home the cocktails they may have previously consumed in a bar or restaurant. Manhattans, Margaritas, and Gin and Tonic are now close at hand and available with the crack of a tab. Store shelves ballooned with carbonated cocktails, noncarbonated favorites, and cream-based RTDs. It was a match made in COVIDville!

Similarly, healthy and clean-label drinks became a favorite of families with kids at home learning remotely. Beverages with low sugar content and vitamins and minerals enhanced with flavors their parents recognized from their childhood were rising in popularity and being generated by product developers all around the country. “Make it healthy, simple, and familiar” was the demand of this market.

Beverages In stores

Generally, large alcohol companies sold well, as their brands were well-known and comfortable for consumers—a clear disadvantage for craft distillers. In a flash, consumers were more willing to spend money on something tried and true, and became less likely to spend money on a more expensive craft beverage that they had never tried. Adventure and exploration had been thrown out the window and classic was king. At the same time, newly health-conscious consumers became familiar with low- or no-alcohol brands and mocktails. Although both classic, established beverages and “good-for-you” spirits gained ground during COVID, no large alcohol companies seemed to lean into the healthy trend, keeping this market segment popular and “new.”

And let us not forget the common COVID symptom, loss of taste and smell, pushing afflicted consumers into bolder, more flavorful options and giving beverage manufacturers an advantage in introducing new products. Making drinks more flavorful became the mantra in beverage creation labs.  Add a bit more flavor to the beverage, make it more distinct, but still keep with traditional favorites so COVID-affected consumers have choices.

Conclusions

As we move towards the end of major COVID surges, we can see several things that will likely remain in the beverage industry for some time. First, consumers have driven flavor profiles to a more familiar and nostalgic slant.  Although we cannot control what has happened in our COVID world, we can imbibe on beverages and flavors that take us back to a simpler, “normal” time. Secondly, “ready to drink” is here to stay, making it easy to buy, store and enjoy a cocktail anytime and anywhere. Third, tried and true beverages will continue to see strong sales as we sail away from the last several years of wild experimentation.  Lastly, beverages will continue to see growth in healthy, clean-label offerings that have risen to the surface through the health concerns of our COVID era.

Like many industries through COVID, beverage and flavor companies adapted quickly to the needs and desires of consumers. Although supply chain issues caused many of us to lose sleep (and hair!), the industry as a whole reacted and rolled with consumers. I suspect that when we look back, we will see that this beverage industry has been changed for the better, while receiving good grades for our rapid changes in consumer demands.  Now, please let us move on.

When you’re ready to talk about your beverage idea, give us a call at (502) 273-5214 or get started with this web form.

 

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Written on January 6, 2022.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (January 06, 2022) Flavorman, a leading custom beverage development company, has announced a new drink flavor to sum up 2021 – “Nada Colada.”

Flavorman made headlines in 2020 when it created a drink flavor coined “Dumpster Fire,” which helped sum up the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. The flavor fittingly incorporated spicy, smoky ginger hints alongside bittersweet grapefruit to coincide with the sentiment that the year resembled flaming trash.

The Flavorman team is back at it again, and for 2021, has crafted another beverage flavor to sum up another challenging and, frankly, lackluster year. The year was filled with slow starts and sudden stops, spinning wheels with little traction and a sense of getting nothing meaningful accomplished. We waited for the tide to turn and as we took two steps forward and took one or two back. The Flavorman team has dubbed 2021’s flavor “Nada Colada,” which, if it was a drink, would include no flavor at all, no color, no sweetness or sour – it would be a bland beverage that tastes like nothing, nada.

“When you think of a ‘nothing’ flavor, you think of flat carbonation or a soft drink without syrup. Or, a glass of slightly infused water left stagnant overnight,” said David Dafoe, Founder and CEO of Flavorman. “We thought 2021 would be a positive year but it just felt like a slow-motion continuation of 2020 with unfulfilled hope of a return to normal, so we are naming the beverage and flavor ‘Nada Colada’ and hoping next year’s flavor will be much more exciting for us all. The positive is that 2022’s flavor should be much more enticing since we’re starting from nothing.”

The Flavorman team will create a flavor annually to represent the year.

 

ABOUT FLAVORMAN: Founded by David Dafoe in 1992, Flavorman is a custom beverage development company located in the heart of Bourbon country. Flavorman works with companies and entrepreneurs— big and small —to develop everything from energy drinks to flavored spirits and more. With 30 years in the industry and almost 75,000 beverage formulations, Flavorman has helped create thousands of household staples and iconic brands that have defined generations – and changed what the world is drinking. For more information, visit www.flavorman.com

Written on September 27, 2021.

28,000-square-foot addition to bring 30 new jobs to downtown Louisville

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (September 27, 2021) – Flavorman, a leading beverage development company, today held a ceremonial groundbreaking on the site of its new facility expansion at 809 South 8th Street. Upon completion, the project will bring 30 new jobs to downtown Louisville and will continue to serve as a catalyst for attracting global business to the heart of Kentucky’s largest city.

Officials in attendance included Lt. Governor Jacqueline Coleman, Mayor Greg Fischer, and Shalanna Taylor, Legislative Aide to Metro Council President David James, who spoke to the significance of the development’s impact on the surrounding community and Greater Louisville.

“With more than 125 food and beverage companies located regionally, businesses can take products from concept to consumer all in one place – Louisville, Ky. – and Flavorman is a key player in that ecosystem. Whether a company wants to find just the right balance of flavors to entice consumers, or someone wants to learn about the art of distilling, Flavorman is where they turn,” said Mayor Greg Fischer.

The project represents an $8.5 million investment to scale up Flavorman’s state-of-the-art “Beverage Campus” and better serve demand for their custom beverage development services. Designed by Frankfort-based G. Scott & Associates (GSA) and contracted by Cardinal Industries, the addition will cover 28,000 square feet and connect to the company’s main laboratory. Once complete, it will boost production capacity, expanding Flavorman’s blending, bottling/canning, processing and bulk storage operations.

“Kentucky’s economy continues to gain momentum, and our state’s food, beverage and agritech sector is a vital part of that growth,” said Governor Andy Beshear. “This expansion by Flavorman will not only allow the company to take its business to the next level but will also create quality job opportunities for residents in the Louisville area while encouraging innovation within the commonwealth’s food and beverage and spirits industries. I want to thank the leadership at this homegrown Kentucky company for furthering their commitment to our state and our talented workforce.”

groundbreaking

The project is the latest in a series of expansions at Flavorman in the last few years as the company continues to experience exponential growth. In 2006, the company rehabbed the existing 24,000-square-foot building at 809 South 8th Street, believing it would be more space than they could ever use. Six years later, the company purchased a neighboring building to create the nation’s premier educational distillery, Moonshine University. In 2018, the company added office space at 827 South 8th Street.

Together, Flavorman and Moonshine University make up a world-class “Beverage Campus” that houses a fully equipped educational distillery, state-of-the-art classroom, production facility with a custom bottling line, extensive sensory library and a beverage innovation laboratory. Flavorman has developed more than 70,000 beverage formulations for brands worldwide, while Moonshine University has hosted hands-on classes for students from all 50 states and 44 countries.

“This expansion is an incredible opportunity for our city,” says David Dafoe, Flavorman Founder & CEO. “When I started Flavorman almost 30 years ago, I did it out of a passion for the craft. I’m proud of the role Flavorman and Moonshine University continue to play in establishing Louisville as the epicenter for not just Bourbon, but the beverage industry overall.”

Construction on the upcoming addition to the campus is estimated to complete during fall of 2022.

ABOUT FLAVORMAN:

Founded by David Dafoe in 1992, Flavorman is an industry leading custom beverage development company based out of Louisville, KY. In contrast to “flavor houses” that manufacture ready-made, “stock” formulations, Flavorman helps clients—big and small—bring custom products to market from concept to production planning and quality control. As of 2021, Flavorman has created 70k unique beverage formulations for brands like Crispin Hard Cider, Formula O2, Jones Soda, Chiquita, Joia Spirit Craft Cocktails, Go Fast Energy, and more. Visit flavorman.com.

 

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Written on August 26, 2021.

David Dafoe presented with 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award by American Distilling Institute

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (August 26, 2021) — Flavorman, a leading beverage development company, is pleased to announce that its Founder and CEO David Dafoe has been honored with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Distilling Institute (ADI).

Dafoe received the award for his “outstanding contribution to distilling.” The award celebrates his multiple businesses for their role in supporting and promoting continued innovation and formalized, hands-on education in the beverage alcohol and distilled spirits sectors. ADI President Erik Owens presented the award to Dafoe during the 2021 ADI Conference & Vendor Expo’s closing Gala Luncheon held in Louisville, KY on Wednesday, August 25.

The creator behind iconic products like the original California Cooler brand, Jack Daniel’s Country Cocktails and Lynchburg Lemonade, Dafoe started Pro-Liquitech (now Flavorman) in 1992 with Chiquita Brands as his first client.

“David Dafoe is the Flavorman,” said Owens during the ceremony. “He has spent his whole career creating flavors and launching brands. We may be in this RTD explosion right now, but in 1983 David was already there doing it—and he didn’t stop there.”

“In 2010, David recognized that there was no single location where someone could receive hands-on, formalized training in distilling, so he created Moonshine University,” said Owens. “A few years later, Dave got a call from the Mayor of Louisville about starting a Bourbon Certification program. In 2014, he founded The Stave & Thief Society in Louisville, where the promotion and preservation of Bourbon knowledge and culture remains a key initiative for the city.”

The serial entrepreneur’s achievements are many. Today, Flavorman develops beverage formulations for national and global beverage brands like Crispin Hard Cider, Formula O2, Jones Soda, Joia Spirit Craft Cocktails, Go Fast Energy, and more. Meanwhile, Moonshine University has helped students from all 50 states, 3 US territories, and 49 countries launch nearly 200 distilleries worldwide in addition to certifying more than 4,000 bourbon ambassadors.

“Receiving this award allowed me reflect humbly on how I got here,” said Dafoe. “I landed on three explanations: First, I had great teachers; second, I found an opportunity; and third, I took action to build something. Now, I am grateful for the opportunity to pay it forward. Flavorman and Moonshine University are designed to equip others with the tools they need to identify their own opportunities to build something—and be successful doing it.”

For more information, contact our team.

About Flavorman:

Founded by David Dafoe in 1992, Flavorman is an industry leading custom beverage development company based out of Louisville, KY. In contrast to “flavor houses” that manufacture ready-made, “stock” formulations, Flavorman helps clients—big and small—bring custom products to market from concept to production planning and quality control. As of 2021, Flavorman has created 70k unique beverage formulations for brands like Crispin Hard Cider, Formula O2, Jones Soda, Chiquita, Joia Spirit Craft Cocktails, Go Fast Energy, and more. Visit flavorman.com.

Have a great idea for a new beverage? Flavorman’s team of experts can help you bring it to life! Get started by filling out this webform or by giving us a call at (502) 273-5214.

 

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Written on August 10, 2021.

Louisville-based beverage developer welcomes industry veterans to leadership team

Aug 10, 2021 (Louisville, KY) — Flavorman, a leading beverage development company, today announced that Scott Weddle and Peter Eberle have been named Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Chief Strategy Officer (CSO). Effective August 1, the decision comes ahead of the company’s milestone 30th-year anniversary in 2022.

“We are honored to welcome Scott and Peter into their respective roles,” said Flavorman Founder & CEO, David Dafoe. “Flavorman has a 29-year history of successful growth. Following this trajectory, our new COO and CSO will work together to strengthen the company’s existing processes while introducing new procedures and initiatives designed to propel us into the future.”

Formerly Flavorman’s Director of Business Development, Scott Weddle has been with Flavorman since 2010. From production and purchasing to fulfillment and quality, Scott has served in nearly every aspect of the business. As COO, Scott will apply the full spectrum of his beverage development expertise to advancing Flavorman’s operations and contribute a customer-first approach to product innovation, consistency, and quality.

Peter Eberle joins the Flavorman team with an extensive career in successfully leading multimillion-dollar companies through critical growth and development periods. He offers 30 years of specialized experience in the start-up, transformation, and turnaround of businesses in highly competitive markets. As CSO, Peter will employ his diverse skill set in directing Flavorman’s strategic planning initiatives, as well as overseeing key projects in production, logistics, construction, safety, and financing.

“It’s an exciting time for Flavorman,” said Dafoe. “As we approach our 30-year anniversary in 2022, we see this evolutionary period as the perfect moment to celebrate and renew our commitment to our clients and partners in the industry. Under Scott and Peter’s leadership, the Flavorman Team will continue growing in a direction that adds value to our business and fuels our mission to change what the world is drinking.”

For more information, contact our team.

ABOUT FLAVORMAN: 

Founded by David Dafoe in 1992, Flavorman is an industry leading custom beverage development company based out of Louisville, KY. In contrast to “flavor houses” that manufacture ready-made, “stock” formulations, Flavorman helps clients—big and small—bring custom products to market from concept to production planning and quality control. As of 2021, Flavorman has created 70k unique beverage formulations for brands like Crispin Hard Cider, Formula O2, Jones Soda, Chiquita, Joia Spirit Craft Cocktails, Go Fast Energy, and more. Visit flavorman.com.

Have a great idea for a new beverage? Flavorman’s team of experts can help you bring it to life! Get started by filling out this webform or by giving us a call at (502) 273-5214.

 

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Written on December 8, 2020.

Our beverage experts formulate dozens of new and innovative drinks for clients every day, making them a valuable resource on the latest flavor trends. After a particularly turbulent year, our team got together to share their insights on the top flavors we expect to take over the beverage industry in the New Year.

Driven by the long-term effects of an on-going pandemic, this year’s forecast is shaping up to be focused on creating experiences in a socially distant landscape. Here are the 2021 flavor trends to watch out for:
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Written on November 17, 2020.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (November 17, 2020) – If 2020 were a drink, what would it taste like? Experts at Flavorman, a Louisville, KY-based beverage development company, got together to find out.
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Written on December 4, 2019.


Our beverage experts formulate dozens of new and innovative drinks for clients every day, making them a valuable resource for the latest flavor trends. That’s why every year, our team gets together to predict the top flavor trends we expect to take over the beverage industry. This year’s forecast is shaping up to be focused on the fresh and functional. Here are the flavor trends for 2020:
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Written on October 23, 2019.

Photo by Jacek ReszkoWhen I founded Flavorman in 1992, it was with the ambitious vision to change what the world is drinking. From the very beginning, I recognized the need to think globally and I wasn’t naïve enough to think that I could do it alone – I knew that strong, global partnerships would be the key to making this dream a reality. To this day, Flavorman continues to operate under a philosophy that keeps client and vendor relationships at the core of our business.
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