LaCroix. It's the seltzer from my childhood that fancy moms used to drink. It was always a treat to crack open a cold can of LaCroix instead of wrestling to open an inevitably exploding plastic bottle of Polar Seltzer, but beyond that, it's just sparkling water, right?
Wrong. LaCroix is back in a big way, and it's basically the beverage of 2016. But how in God's name did this unassuming beverage have such a resurgence? And like, why are people flipping out over bubbly flavored water?
It's for a couple of reasons. For one, people aren't drinking soda as much as they used to. LaCroix is sugar and artificial sweetener-free, sodium-free and caffeine-free, so you get the refreshing bubbles of soda without any of the bad stuff. Second, it's super cheap. Unlike fancy mineral waters (we'll get to that in a second), you can easily get a 12-pack of LaCroix for under $4.
But LaCroix has also been marketing the hell out of its brand. They've sought out their fan base on Instagram instead of splurging on television ads. They rely on interactions with and exposure from social media influencers who are already huge fans of the brand, creating a viral, visually driven marketing campaign that makes us thirsty. Someone was even inspired to write a rap:
If you can't get your hands on a can of LaCroix seltzer, though, what then? Before you decide, first you should know the subtle but important differences between all the different types of sparkling unsweetened beverage. Yes, there are a few.
Mineral water comes from a natural spring or well, and is prized for its mineral content, usually including some naturally occurring salts that give it a bit of a complex flavor compared to regular water. It is sometimes naturally carbonated, and sometimes carbonation is added with carbon dioxide. It can also be more expensive than other types of sparkling water because of how it's sourced.
Seltzer water is a plain, unsweetened water that's carbonated with added carbon dioxide.
Club soda is water carbonated with carbon dioxide that is fortified with "mineral-like ingredients like sodium bicarbonate, sodium citrate, potassium sulfate, and disodium phosphate," according to The Kitchn. It's great for cocktails, adding a slight mineral taste.
Now that we've got that down, you can pick and choose from these unsweetened, flavored sparkling beverages. They may not all have the light, sparkling bubbles of LaCroix, but the'll scratch that soda alternative itch.
You can also look for your grocery store's in-house brand or try whipping up your own at home.
Either way, whether you're cracking into a can of LaCroix or enjoying a bottle of Polar seltzer, it's hard to deny that flavored sparkling water is the hottest drink of summer.
More: Flavored water recipes
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