July 08, 2009
Moment interviews me for column on seltzer
There is an excellently researched overview of seltzer history in the new issue of Moment magazine, and I don't just say that because I am the resident "expert" she quotes.
Jewish Fizz: Seltzer, Egg Creams & Cel-Ray
"Carbonated water, the primary ingredient of these three Jewish champagnes, appeared first in European spas as a medicinal drink. Natural sparkling mineral water from the springs of a German village, Nieder-Selters—the linguistic origin for seltzer—was bottled and sold as early as 1728 in earthenware jugs, according to Barry Joseph, founder of Givemeseltzer.com and author of a forthcoming book on seltzer’s history. Said to cure all sorts of diseases, from the common cold to tuberculosis, seltzer was touted in an 1835 New York Times ad for 'travelers…as the only sure preventative against the influence of a hostile climate.'"
Full link here.
More on seltzer history from the Forward
The weekly Forward, now in English, summarizes history highlights from its Yiddish past. We have seen in past years an imminent seltzer worker strike. This week we learned more about the conditions that led to it, reported one hundred years ago:
"Seltzer is far and away the most popular drink on Manhattan's Lower East Side. As a result of the beverage's popularity, seltzer bottlers work overtime. But most seltzer drinkers are not familiar with the dangerous realities of working in a seltzer factory. Accidents are daily occurrences, and workers come home with bandaged heads, sliced-up hands and missing eyeballs. The pace in these factories is so fast that the workers don't have time to check the quality of the bottles. This means that if there is even a hairline crack in the glass, it could easily explode, leaving workers with gashes on their hands and heads, or shards of glass in their eyes. It is known that in the uptown shops, where most of the workers are Christian, the employees are provided with protective masks and gloves. But here, downtown, where the workers are Jews, no protection is available and there are injuries every day."
Read a previous story from the Forward here.