Like sports, in my family drinking Coke is a girl thing. I can clearly trace my love of ‘brown champagne’ back to my Aunt Sophie. Aunt Sophie was my mother’s eldest sister. I loved her. I loved being around her. And I miss her to this day. She was larger than life, smelled like Chantilly and had a slight—ok, a full-on—obsession with Estée Lauder. You know those free gifts you score when you spend a certain amount on beauty products? Those became the main source of my secret childhood makeup stash (and my own slight obsession with Estée Lauder). But as much as my Aunt Sophie loved all things feminine, she also loved being a sports fan. As with my mother, these traits weren’t mutually exclusive. Whether it was hockey or basketball, the Summer or Winter Olympics, Aunt Sophie’s house was the place to watch. She was passionate about her teams and had a fabulous TV. But on game night Aunt Sophie served no Pepsi, just Coke.

To me Coke has always been a celebratory drink, always something special. I don’t drink Coke everyday for just that reason. To this day, I save having a Coke for sports games when I‘ll pair it with my oh-so-indulgent order of French fries or that mystery meat hotdog that’s so bad it’s good. And most recently it’s become the perfect partner for my plum-glazed baby back ribs I’m perfecting for Monday Night Football. Coke for me is not just a drink. It’s part of my childhood and a major part of my personal sports fan ritual.

And when I hear the crack of a Coke can or taste that delicious icy fizz I think of my Aunt Sophie. I guess that’s what they mean when they say, ‘Have a Coke and a smile.’