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.
May 25, 2012
Seattle-based seltzer man raises online funds to build seltzer bike
Webster Crowell, the self-described Head Seltzerman at the Seattle-based Under Pressure, recently led a successful online fundraising campaign to launch his bike-based seltzer delivery business. Using Indiegogo, a Kickstarter-style fundraising site, Webster set a goal of $2,830 to provide funding for:
Construction of a custom delivery cart
Repairs to a one-of-a kind antique filling machine
Obtaining more vintage bottles
On Feb 12th, he not only hit that goal but surpassed it, raising $3,910.
Congratulations to Webster and check out the amazing video he put together to promote the campaign and describe a seltzer bike:
And the original campaign here:
April 04, 2012
Young Seltzer Men in the News
There aren't that many people in the seltzer delivery business. There are even less who began their work in the 21st Century. So its rare to see news coverage of the young turks. This past week, however, there were two - yes, count them, 2! - different articles, on two different new seltzer men - one in Florida and one in Pittsburgh.
A sign of things to come, or just the approach of Passover?
August 03, 2011
Article on the Return of the Egg Cream
There is a new Egg Cream article, Egg Creams Make a Comeback, in the Forward this week.
New York is having an egg cream revival — again. That thought occurred to me in July, while parked on a counter stool at Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain, in Carroll Gardens, sipping the fizzy drink made from chocolate syrup, frosty milk and seltzer. (read more)
February 15, 2011
Science Projects With Seltzer Water
I just came across this great collection of Science Projects With Seltzer. My favorite is the carbonated lava lamp!
Another experiment involves creating an Alka-Seltzer water lava lamp. A 16-ounce soda pop bottle should be emptied and cleaned, then filled 3/4 full with vegetable oil and the rest of the way with plain water, just up to the neck of the bottle. Color the water with 10 drops of food coloring. Break up one Alka-Seltzer tablet into about six to eight pieces and drop them in one at a time, watching for a reaction. When the reaction is completed, twist the bottle top on tightly. Shake the bottle, mixing contents thoroughly and observe the results.
Read more here and, if you do any of them, let me know how it goes!
November 09, 2010
Seltzer Poem in the New York Times
In this week's Metropolitan Diary in the New York Times, an Ilene Bauer published the following poem:
I often pass a window
Near the street where I reside,
And glancing at it, visions of my past
It does provide.
For it contains two seltzer bottles,
Spritzers facing in.
I wonder if my childhood home
Is one place they have been.
For growing up in Brooklyn,
Seltzer bottles we would get,
Delivered in a wooden box,
Along with one U-Bet.
To make a perfect egg cream,
You put U-Bet in a glass.
Your mom said, “Just a little!”
An amount you would surpass.
On top of all that syrup,
You’d add milk, but just a splash.
Then you’d squirt the seltzer in
And mix it in a flash.
Voilà! The bubbles burbled as
From bottom up they rose;
And as you sipped, you always got
A tickle on your nose.
The seltzer in the stores now
Doesn’t have that wicked squirt.
If you could taste the difference,
Why, I’m sure you would convert.
So when I see those bottles,
I begin to reminisce;
And seltzer joins the list of things
From childhood that I miss.
November 03, 2010
Do It Yourself Seltzer Drinks
Liz Alpern in the Forward's new food blog, The Jew and the Carrot, wrote a fun piece full of seltzer recipes: Candied Ginger Fizz, Chocolate Cherry Ice Cream Float, and, of course, Chocolate Egg Creams.
Check it out here.
She also gives me a lovely, if not ungrammatical, shout-out:
The recent buzz (or should I say fizz?) about seltzer comes as Barry Joseph’s much anticipated book on the history of seltzer “Give Me Seltzer— a Crisp, Refreshing History,” and places like the Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain are offering a taste of the classic lunch counter in a most contemporary and locally grown way.
October 11, 2010
A Seltzer Ocean? "It's Only a Seltzer Moon"
Science News magazine reported last week that a moon of Saturn might have an ocean, an ocean of seltzer!
Eau my! Things could be really popping inside Saturn’s moon Enceladus. A fizzy ocean, similar in carbonation to Perrier, may feed the plumes of water vapor, gas and ice that erupt from the south pole of the moon, a new model suggests.
Since 2005, when the Cassini spacecraft first observed icy plumes spewing from the south pole of Enceladus (SN: 5/6/06, p. 282), researchers have speculated that an ocean may lie buried tens of kilometers beneath the moon’s fractured, icy surface. Now, Cassini scientist Dennis Matson of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and his colleagues propose adding a bit of effervescence to the watery hypothesis. Circulating, bubbly seawater containing 1 or 2 percent dissolved carbon dioxide and other gases could supply water, gas, dust and heat to Enceladus’ polar plumes, the researchers say. It can also explain why some of the ice grains expelled by the plumes carry sodium and potassium salts.
Noncarbonated seawater circulating from the moon’s solid core to the surface would stall rather than seep though cracks in the ice because seawater is denser than the icy carapace. If the seawater were fizzy, however, gas bubbles would form in the liquid, reducing the ocean’s density. Once the seawater became less dense than the ice, the water could rise to within 10 to 15 meters of the frigid surface. That’s close enough to fill chambers in the icy crust with water that feeds the south polar plumes.
In addition, as the bubbles popped they would spray the plume chambers with tiny droplets containing dissolved salts from the seawater. Those droplets would emerge from the plumes as salty grains like those that have been observed by Cassini (SN: 8/30/08, p. 10). The bubbly water would also warm large areas of the icy south polar crust, Matson notes.
After the water transferred its heat and grew colder, the bubbles would dissolve and the water would once again become denser than the surface ice. The liquid would sink back through the cracks and rejoin the rest of the subsurface ocean.
Matson sketched the findings during a press briefing October 4 at the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences annual meeting in Pasadena and presented further details during his scientific presentation October 5.
October 06, 2010
Free public seltzer fountain opens in Paris!
Wow! Why didn't we think of this first in NYC! Can we be the next location for a public seltzer fountain? Pretty please?
Eau la la! Parisians get free fizzy water from a park fountain
French capital gets first public fountain dispensing carbonated water in attempt to wean public off bottles
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 21 September 2010
France's addiction to bottled sparkling water is up there with its penchant for bike racing, foie gras and Johnny Hallyday. Now, authorities in Paris are attempting to fight back against the national dependence by unveiling a public water fountain that gushes with chilled bubbles.
La Pétillante – literally, she who sparkles – is the first fountain in France to inject carbon dioxide into tap water before cooling it and serving it up to passers-by. Inaugurated today in the Jardin de Reuilly in south-east Paris, it is expected to prove a user-friendly means of weaning the French off the bottle.
"Our aim is to boost the image of Paris tap water," said Philippe Burguiere of Eau de Paris, the capital's public water supplier. "We want to show that we're proud of it, that it's totally safe."
Today, locals from the 12th arrondissement queuing up to try the water greeted the fountain with enthusiasm. Speaking on television, one woman even paid La Pétillante the ultimate compliment. "I think it's pretty tasty," she said. "A bit like Perrier."
With the average person drinking 28 gallons of still or sparkling last year, France is the eighth biggest consumer of bottled water in the world, according to figures from the Earth Policy Institute. Observers warn that this habit, which has persevered in many households despite public campaigns to improve the image of l'eau de robinet, is having pernicious effects on the environment: the country is estimated to have produced more than 262,000 tonnes of plastic waste during 2009.
According to Anne Le Strat, chairman of Eau de Paris, the main thing stopping people from changing is that tap water – without the use of a soda fountain – is still. "Lots of Parisians have told me that they would consume more [tap] water if it were fizzy," she said. There are signs the French are already taking matters into their own hands: sales of household carbonation machines rocketed last year.
Free of charge and available whenever the Jardin is open – which, in high summer, is 8am until 9.30pm – La Petillante will allow thirsty passers-by to experiment with publicly supplied water.
Housed in a former garden cabin, the fountain pumps water straight from the city's supply and emerges either as still, chilled, with bubbles, or simply still water at room temperature. Authorities said it had cost €75,000 (£63,500) to install.
Already a common feature in Italy, the fountain will be watched closely to see whether the Jardin de Reuilly will be the first of many locations. "This is a first, so we're going to watch how Parisians react and whether there's an uptake. Then we might gradually install others in the busiest parks," said Burguiere.
July 26, 2010
New York Magazine: Ask a Seltzer Man
Check out the latest issue of New York Magazine for a fun interview with the NYC seltzer delivery icon, Walter Backerman:
Ask a Seltzer Man
Third-generation seltzermonger Walter Backerman on the dying art of H2O delivery.
By Sarah Bernard
Published Jul 25, 2010
With bottled seltzer at every corner store, why do people still call you?
Taste. The other day, I bought a seltzer at Walmart, brought it home, drank it, and spilled it out. I tasted the plastic! I use beautiful glass bottles with metal caps, never plastic. My seltzer is five times more expensive—it’s $35 for a case of ten—but people are willing to pay for what they want.
They must feel some loyalty too.
People like to support the little man. Then there’s this thing called nostalgia. I’m going to be 58, and customers remember the day I was born because my father delivered to them. The problem is, when people die you have to hope you get your bottles back.
Describe a typical day.
My van holds 40 cases, and I drive from the Bronx to New Jersey to Brooklyn for my steady customers. Three days a week I go to fill up the bottles. In the whole city, there’s one siphon filling machine still working—in Canarsie. You start with tap water, put it through a triple filtration system, plus a charcoal filter. You have to chill the water to 38 degrees, then infuse the carbon dioxide.
Is there going to be a fourth generation of Backerman seltzer men?
All the old guys used to tell me the business won’t last five years. The route has no place in 2010. But it had no place in the eighties either, and here I am still going.
To sign up for seltzer delivery, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 718-468-4047.
I will be on WAMC's The Roundtable in August
WAMC's The Roundtable is an award-winning, nationally recognized three-hour eclectic talk program. The show airs from 9AM - noon each weekday and features news, interviews, in-depth discussion, listener call-ins, music, and much (much) more! Hosted by Joe Donahue and produced by Sarah LaDuke, The Roundtable tackles serious and lighthearted subjects, looking to explore the many facets of the human condition with civility, respect and responsibility. The show's hallmark is thoughtful interviews with A-list newsmakers, authors, artists, sports figures, actors, and people with interesting stories to tell. Since hitting the airwaves in May of 2001, The Roundtable has interviewed the likes of Arthur Miller, Kurt Vonnegut, Maya Angelou, Madeleine Albright, Jimmy Carter, John McCain, Bob Dole, Bill O'Reilly, Steve Martin, James Taylor, Bill Cosby, Stephen King, Melissa Etheridge and lots of other really cool people. Plus, Wilco does our theme song. What more can you ask for?
It should be a lot of fun and my first interview since I started the book from scratch last Fall. As they podcast their show, I look forward to sharing it here once it's live.
And of course, if you live in the Albany area, check it out live and let me know the 411 on the show.
April 05, 2010
Mineral Water tops Soda in UK
In the latest from the FineWater Newsletter:
Bottled Water Ousts Canned Drinks in UK's Inflation Basket
Sunday, 04 April 2010
Canned soda drinks are out and small bottles of mineral water are in, according to the Office for National Statistics in its latest annual rejig of the "shopping basket" of goods it uses to calculate inflation. The move reflects higher spending on smaller bottles of mineral water in the "on-the-go" drinks market in recent years. The latest snapshot of the nation's spending habits also showed hair straighteners replacing hairdryers and lipstick giving way to lip gloss.