March 28, 2013
Latest New York Post article on Seltzer, quoting me
Last January I published a piece on Alex Gomberg. Now, larger news outlets are beginning to take notice:
Prince of Pop
A 25-year-old is bringing the fizz back to the seltzer business
By DOREE LEWAK
Posted: 11:01 PM, March 23, 2013
From the shtetl-icious beverage staple of the old country, to ’60s dime-store pharmacy mainstay, seltzer has been part of the American carbonated beverage landscape for centuries. And it mounted a mean comeback 30 years ago, when Perrier conferred cool status on buying overpriced bottled water.
Even Bruce Willis and James Gandolfini caught the last seltzer wave in the early ’80s. The actors-in-the-making delivered the fizzy stuff while trying to make it big in New York.
After running out of fizz over the past decade or so, seltzer is being given new life by a new company, the Brooklyn Seltzer Boys.
Launched by Alex Gomberg, 25, in September, the BSB is a delivery service that’s equal parts throwback and painfully hipster, making Gomberg the hot new whippersnapper on the seltzer delivery circuit. Make that the only whippersnapper on the circuit and, easily, the youngest seltzer man in the country — there are only a handful left.
January 12, 2013
Two New Articles by me this week on Seltzer Men
Oops! I have been so busy with the book and the Facebook group, I have neglected the blog. Sorry!
Last week I had a top of the fold, front page article in the Jewish Week. That was very nice. It is an interview with Walter Backerman, seltzerman extraordinaire. As if that were not enough, there is a second piece from me interviewing Alex Gomberg, the newest and youngest seltzerman in the country. Finally, as a blast from the past, I will include a fantastic NPR seltzer piece I came across from the 70s.
Time in a Bottle: Meet Walter Backerman, the third generation in a dynasty of ‘seltzer men,’ and one of the last of a breed. [link]
21s-Century Seltzer Man: A young Brooklynite with a vintage business.[link]
Marty – the Seltzer Man - NPR, 1979
October 03, 2012
More on Walter Backerman - BBC and NHK
Walter has been sending me great material documenting his work, as he is a media hound and a lightening rod for anyone interested in the topic.
Here is a radio piece on the BBC from last March. Start at 18:30.
From July 5- July 10, 2007, a Japanese TV crew followed Walter for a piece that ran on July 28, 2007. Walter, who gave me this video and asked me to share it online, says it was viewed by 10 million people.
"The Route is the Route" - A Day with Walter Backerman, Seltzerman Supreme
Yesterday, after waiting for many years, I finally had the incredible opportunity to spend the day alongside Walter Backerman, who runs the nearly 100 year-old route. He was tremendously generous with both his time and opinions.
I have HOURS of interview now to transcribe but, in the meantime, below are some photos and video from the day:
Some photos from the day.
A video of a delivery.
A video of his bottle collection.
September 21, 2012
Hungarian Siphon Fountain/Monument
My Hungarian contact, Kiss Imre, sent me this fanastic photo today. He wrote: "How do you like this fountain from GYŐR, the town where our ÁNYOS JEDLIK invented his soda making technology?" According to Wikipedia, he was a Hungarian inventor, engineer, physicist, and Benedictine priest. He is considered by Hungarians and Slovaks to be the unsung father of the dynamo and electric motor.
But, in any case, isn't this just so cool! It looks like it is made of a thick glass, the color of the average green seltzer siphon.
I received this email from a reader in Minnesota who was interested in figuring out why everything came with such different names:
about canada dry seltzer - they now call it canada dry sparkling seltzer water. at least they do here in minnesota. since sparkling water and seltzer water are different (i thought) it is confusing. what is canada dry seltzer called in NYC?? I grew up in Brooklyn and had seltzer delivery via H. Myerowitz. my recall is that the seltzer man disappeared along with the milk man about 1969. I understand seltzer delivery with glass siphon bottles is making a comeback. Here in the minneapolis area, it has been a struggle getting seltzer tho you can find just about any carbonated water from run of the mill club soda to sparkling water to european import mineral waters. Finally a local supermrket started carerying Boylan seltzer. Then a local supermarket chain started carrying a house brand seltzer. Canada Dry sparkling seltzer water is available flavored only. and again, the sparkling and seltzer refs confuse me. I also know of Schweppes and Polar seltzer brands but not out here. real seltzer has a crisper taste-- no sodium-- and a different carbonation. thank you
August 13, 2012
Images from "Soda water, a cult drink in Hungary"
I previously wrote about discovering the Hungarian seltzer museum, and associated book. Below I will share some of my favorite images from the book and associated captions or descriptions.
Austrian Postcard from end of the 19th century
One of many examples of unusual siphon heads, the "soul of the siphon"
"Syphon-head beaks in the shape of eagle of snake he [sic] are exciting and interesting particularly if we know: they were developed to prevent that the consumer could not put the bottle into his mouth, and abandoned women could not use them for other purposes."
August 12, 2012
Seltzer in Hungary - A "Hungarian Cult Drink"
I am always amazed to discover anything new about seltzer - and each month I am surprised. Last month my surprise regarded a seltzer museum in Hungary, perhaps the world's only seltzer museum.
Here is some information I obtain by emailing someone who had posed these fantastic 360 degree photos of the exhibit:
Hi, I am sending the informations and the pictures of the Soda Museum of Szeged. The Soda Museum of Szeged One attraction of the water tower (called Old Lady) of the Saint Stephen square in Szeged is the Water Museum placed on the ground floor in the tower. István Bánffi collected its pieces. In the permanent exhibition the audience can get to know the story of the soda, from Ányos Jedlik’s invention to novadays.
István Bánffi’s father – who was a sodamaker, either – kept the ornamental soda bottles, and he started to collect the relics in planned form approximately 15 years ago. In the exibithion, there are 1200 soda bottles and 30 kind of sodamaking machines, just the most beautiful ones. There are also commercials, plaquets, postcards and specifications of soda water making.
I later learned that this was a traveling exhibit that, after touring the country, found a home in Szeged.
Soon after a book was published based on the collection - "Soda water, a cult drink in Hungary" - which was mailed to be by it's gracious author Imre Kiss.
When I got home today I found waiting for me a package with this postage attached:
Written in Hungarian alongside an English translation, with many photos, it is just fantastic. I am only a few pages in, but here are a few details:
"Dear Readers, when reading this book, please, think of the colleagues of ours who were purposed to supply the buyers with soda water by working hard on icy or sultry days, be it winter or summer time, who survived two works wars, economic crises, revolutions, the horrible time of nationalism and the years of socialism."
"Soda water symbolizes sparkling life, activity and dynamic force and there, deep in our minds, it works like a volcano to erupt, and that is why we like this drink. Knowing the maxim that says 'we get identical to what we eat,' we come to love it easily because we ourselves want to be something like that."
May 31, 2012
Seltzer Scene From Water For Elephants
I just learned that last year's Reese Witherspoon film, Like Water For Elephant - sorry, just Water for Elephant - features a circus scene where the performers celebrate one of the main characters joining the circus by spraying him with seltzer bottles and smashing him with cream pies.
I learned of this from the Seltzer Sisters, who provided all of the siphons for the shoot, which I am currently writing about for the book.
May 29, 2012
Fantastic New Video on a Seltzerman: Remember These Days
Remember These Days, by Frederic Menou, Galen Clarke, and Marian Liu, promoted on MSN.com, is a new and fantastic video on Walter Backerman, one of the most famous active seltzermen. This is probably the best seltzer videos I have seen.
For Walter Backerman, seltzer is more than a drink. It is the embodiment of his family.
Standing in the kitchen of his Parkside Hills home in New York, Walter Backerman holds a picture of his father and grandfather.
As a third generation seltzer man, he follows parts of the same cobblestone route his grandfather began in 1920s Manhattan.
Walter maintains a collection of more than seven thousand antique bottles that he circulates to his customers. Many bear the family name, a tribute to his father and his grandfather before him.
Now, after 90 years of the Backermans being in the business, Walter knows all too well that he may be the last of the family's seltzer men. Watch the video below to meet Walter and find out more about what his family's seltzer legacy means to him.