Sparkling water isn’t worth the hype

Alex Silber

By Sam Mulford

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It has to be said: sparkling water isn’t worth the hype.

Over the last few years, sparkling water has blown up. Americans spent about $2 billion on sparkling water at restaurants in 2018, a proportionate amount compared with the $15 billion spent on all soft drinks combined. 

America is obsessively enamored with the fizzy beverage; walking through the beverage aisle of Whole Foods or Giant, I was appalled to discover that a majority of the shelf space was dedicated to a seemingly infinite variety of sparkling water.

I understand the appeal. In theory, sparkling water is a great idea. It’s a healthier substitute to drinking soda, and it comes in cute flavors like “peach-pear” and “passionfruit.” 

The first time I tried sparkling water I was convinced I was going to love it. A couple of years ago, I was at a family friend’s house when her mom offered me a can of LaCroix. At the time, I had no idea what LaCroix was, but the idea of “sparkling water” sounded intriguing. If you’ve ever seen a LaCroix, you can probably agree that it’s one of the most beautifully designed cans on the market. 

However, after my first sip, I was extremely disappointed and marginally disgusted. I finished the can to be polite, but I couldn’t help thinking: are there actually people out there who drink LaCroix voluntarily? And surely not every brand of sparkling water tastes that boring? 

To my dismay, I found out the hard way that sparkling water truly does all taste the same. It didn’t matter what flavor or brand I tried; for me, drinking sparkling water remains a thoroughly unenjoyable experience. It’s painfully underwhelming, and the so-called “flavors” are frankly bland and only distinguishable by their slightly varying bitter aftertaste. 

I have friends who are entirely under the spell of the soda conglomerates — in fact, they’ve stopped drinking normal water almost entirely. 

But, in addition to being subjectively disgusting, sparkling water isn’t all that healthy either. Looking at the nutrition label of a sparkling water can, zeros jump out everywhere: zero sugar, zero calories, zero artificial flavoring. Even though still and sparkling water may look the same on paper, sparkling water still isn’t as healthy. 

Drinking sparkling water can have an erosive effect on your teeth. In the same way that vaping isn’t all that better than smoking, sparkling water isn’t all that better than soda when it comes to dental hygiene. 

I’m pretty open-minded; if a can of seltzer and I cross paths, I’ll give it a try. Every time, I hope it’ll taste better. But every time, I am just as disappointed as the last. 

So next time you see a San Pellegrino at the grocery store, save the $1.86 and skip the sparkling water. Think about being hydrated and healthy — and just drink some plain old water instead.