“Treasure Coast company restores old fashioned ‘Seltzer Man'”

Florida seltzerman, Ryan Pinnell from Treasure Coast Seltzer Works, received this excellent local TV coverage. Ryan and the fascinating origins of his interest in seltzer are in my book.Treasure Coast company restores old fashioned ‘Seltzer Man’

Story by Mary Quinn O’Connor/CBS12WEST PALM BEACH (CBS12) — While soda consumption is down in America, Americans still like a little fizz in their drinks.

Ryan Pinnell from Treasure Coast Seltzer Works has what he says is the perfect compromise.

“Seltzer is water with bubbles,” said Pinnell.

No caffeine, no chemicals and no calories – unlike its counterparts tonic water and club soda.

Treasure Coast Seltzer Works is one of the only four siphoned seltzer water manufacturers in the country, with old fashioned delivery services taking many on a trip down memory lane.

“We are the old school seltzer man,” said Pinnell.

The recent resurgence in the fizzy drink has business better than ever.

For the tenth straight year, soda consumption is down.

Americans drank nearly 1.5 billion fewer cases last year than in 2004, when soda sales hit an all-time high.

In the meantime, carbonated water sales are booming

“Look at the big players, Pepsi, Canada Dry.  They are all launching sparkling products,” said Pinnell. “It’s very difficult for a large bottler to do what we do.”

The proof is in the pudding for Pinnell. Since founded in 2012, Treasure Coast Seltzer Works have seen around 40 percent growth each year.

They hand-bottle more than 1200 bottles a day.

It keeps him busy, but he says that’s not such a bad thing.

“You put so much time into something, it’s your baby,” said Pinnell.

Video from my appearance on CBS This Morning

Today CBS aired the fantastic piece on seltzer’s resurgence (take a drink every time you hear the word) which is a sort of a video version of the recent Wall Street Journal piece. Not that I’m complaining – the more press outlets that cover the rise of seltzer the more people will understand how timely my book is, which captures that very transition.

You can watch the full piece on their web site here or just watch it below:

I thought they did a great job with the piece. What do you think?

I will be on CBS News tomorrow

Inspired by the Wall Street Journal article earlier this summer, CBS News contacted me to be the “seltzer expert” in their piece expected to air tomorrow morning, Saturday, on CBS Morning Show (8:15 a.m. in NYC). It was flattering to be asked and awesome to be part of yet another of what I am calling the “seltzer resurgence” meme in the press this summer.

I met them on 11th avenue and 45th street, at a bar that serves seltzer from The Brooklyn Seltzer Boys. I sat at a table with Mark Albert, glasses of seltzer between us, and for a half hour or so we talked seltzer.

Getting my microphone on.
Getting my microphone on.

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I look forward to watching it tomorrow and sharing it with all of you. If you watch, let me know what you think!

 

Interviewing George Williams, an 86-year old African-American seltzerman

When I interviewed Kenny Gomberg many years ago, proprietor of Gomberg’s Seltzer Works, he told me about a former employee, George Williams, who retired in the 1970s. An African-American who moved as a boy from North Carolina, he worked in a number of seltzer works around NYC for over two decades. I was very interested in his story – both as an individual and to the extent it shed light on the African-American labor that worked behind the scenes to keep the city in seltzer.

After a number of years, I finally got to sit down with Mr. Williams this week, now 86 years old (it’s been a busy week for me and seltzer!). It was fascinating to hear the tale of how he entered the business (while competing on the boxing circuit), learned Yiddish from his new boss, and spent five years fighting to get into the Hebrew Soda Workers Union.

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Visiting Pittsburgh Seltzer Works for the 1st Time

This past week I was in Pittsburgh and meet in person, for the first, John Seekings, proprietor of the Pittsburgh Seltzer Works, whom I have been interviewing for over 4 years and whose business is the centerpiece of my book. It was thrilling to meet him for the first time and to walk the floors of the Works. John was as generous as ever – with his time and stories – and helped me to understand the Works in a new way, up-close and personal.

I took a video that I will prepare and share at a later date but, in advance, here are some photos. (View all the photos here)

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John Seekings

 

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The infamous bottles of death (which open my book and introduce the readers to John Seekings).

 

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A seltzer filling machine and the Work’s sign.

Continue reading Visiting Pittsburgh Seltzer Works for the 1st Time

Audio from “Science of Seltzer” Talk in Pittsburgh

This week I was delighted to do a reading from my manuscript in Pittsburgh – a city that plays a central role in my book – at the wonderful Center for PostNatural History.

Center For PostNatural HistoryHere’s a video walk-through of the museum (no audio):

And here’s the full audio from the talk, in which I read two sections – “Sourless Mice” and “Bottles of Death” – and then took questions:

Center for PostNatural History

I’m speaking this month in Pittsburgh on the “Science of Seltzer”

I’m going to be in Pittsburgh in two weeks for a work related conference. A few months ago, I reached out to the Center for Postnatural History, as I was excited to visit them. After some back and forth, we decided I would do a reading from the book, and called it “The Science of Seltzer”. You can read more about it here.

This will be my first time doing a reading now that I have an agent for the book and the first time I will be doing a reading in the city that plays such a central role within the narrative. I’m super-excited.

And since it’s a science-related talk at a (post)natural history museum, I made a fun promotional photo wearing my work shirt:

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New Seltzer Article in Wall Street Journal; Mentions My Book

There’s a great new article in the Wall Street Journal on seltzer, “Buy Into These Bubbles: Seltzer’s Fizz Is Back.” Below is the excerpt that quotes me:

Barry Joseph, an associate director at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, began researching seltzer more than a decade ago after writing a review of a SodaStream machine for a Jewish news site. In response, he heard from dozens of people who wanted to share memories—of seltzer delivery men injured by exploding bottles and childhood egg creams, the combination of milk, chocolate syrup and seltzer that tastes like fizzy chocolate milk.

Mr. Joseph has written a book-length history of the beverage and is working to get it published. He says soda water was invented by Joseph Priestley,an 18th century theologian and chemist credited with discovering oxygen, who found a way to infuse water with fixed air. Several years later, Johann Jacob Schweppe, for whom the Schweppes brand is named, founded the technique to mass-produce fizzy water. The rise in inventive and homemade cocktails has helped draw more people to seltzer, Mr. Joseph says.

To read the whole article, check out this pdf a good fan sent me, or go right to their web site.

I found an agent!

I have great news to share! I just posted the following on our Facebook group:

I found an agent! Actually, she found me. Here’s how it happened. And how I couldn’t have done it without you.
I would never say writing is easy. But it’s rewarding, pumping me with hits of natural opiates that keep me chugging along. And I’m in control, deciding what I want to write about, and when. So last summer, when I finished the draft manuscript, I was simultaneously excited by the accomplishment and dreading the next step: figuring out how to get it published.
I spent months working on a proposal, which I have since written and rewritten numerous times. I might as well have been pitching my book blind-folded on a stage, plugs in my ear, with little idea about how it was being received. I’ve never done this before. I had no idea what I was doing. And like sensory deprivation, the vacuum can be oppressive.
But you helped me. Posting about the process here on Facebook gave me the support I needed to keep going. Last December I gave myself six months to find an agent or self-publish (not that the latter would be easier, but at least I’d be in control).
Month after month, as rejections came in, I posted tidbits now and again. Your very interest encouraged me to keep sending out the proposal, to keep clarifying and improving it. It led me to take shots in the dark, like paying to post an ad on Publisher’s Marketplace. I had no idea of it was all just a scam, but I gave it a shot. So on Feb 11, 2015, I posted the following:
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Then something new happened. An agent contacted me, not the other way around. She read the ad and was curious. I sent her the proposal and, last month, invited me to talk on the phone. You might recall it; it was the last thing I posted about agents here. And after that I stopped, as it looked like it might be working. And it was one of her first pieces of advise: don’t build expectations until you know you can deliver.
And now a signed agent/author agreement has been passed back and forth via the US Postal Service. It’s official. I now have an agent. And as she emailed recently “Now that you can post!” [note: I actually don’t recall what she said, but it was something like that, but why ruin the flow of a good story. Now, where was I?]
We still have a ways to go. A new proposal will need to be written. And Anne will have to sell it (that’s her name – please say Hi to Anne!). And so much more. But I think it’s okay for me to start building your expectations once again.
A book is coming.
It’s about seltzer.
And my thanks to you will be how much you will love it.

The Effervescent Age