Seltzer's Popularity Bubbles Up In The U.S. : The Salt Seltzer sales have jumped 42 percent in the past five years. The bubbly water has inspired everything from tasting flights at restaurants to "LaCroix Boi," one rapper's parody ode to the drink.

Seltzer's Popularity Bubbles Up In The U.S.

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We may be in the middle of a seltzer bubble. Americans are drinking nearly 170 million gallons each year, and seltzer sales have gone up 42 percent over the last five years with no signs of slowing down.


Further evidence that we've reached peak seltzer - there's a restaurant in Boston offering a $40 flight of limited edition seltzers.

BARRY JOSEPH: We are now at a point in American history where seltzer is more popular than it's ever been.

SHAPIRO: Barry Joseph is the author of "Seltzertopia." He says today's seltzer obsession has its roots in 1971.

JOSEPH: A new drink comes over from Europe in 1971 called Perrier, and suddenly people aren't only interested in flat water anymore. Now they like maybe a mineral water. They like the idea of sparkling water. And people rediscover this thing that we've had around for a while, seltzer.

CORNISH: Joseph says that people are turning to seltzer as a healthier option than soda, and one brand in particular is having a moment.

JOSEPH: Millennials have their own fascination with seltzer, specifically one particular brand, LaCroix.


BIG DIPPER: (Singing) LaCroix Boi - tiny bubbles tickle tongues, mixing flavors just for fun.

SHAPIRO: That's rapper Big Dipper with his YouTube hit "LaCroix Boi," an ode to the sensual possibilities of seltzer. It's somewhat mysterious how a brand that was cool with Midwestern soccer dads in the 1980s has caught on with today's 20-somethings.


BIG DIPPER: (Singing) Peach, pear, apricot, tangerine, don't ever stop. Mango, cran-raspberry - best you ever had.

CORNISH: But it's not just LaCroix. Seltzer brand Polar has carved out a space in a crowded fizzy water market with seasonal, limited-run flavors, which brings us back to that $40 seltzer flight in Boston.

SHAPIRO: Sweet Cheeks is a barbecue joint in Boston, and for your $40, you get four cans of Polar with four nips of vodka. Owner Tiffani Faison points out that $10 vodka sodas are not rare in the city. And she says this is supposed to be fun.

TIFFANI FAISON: You get this great, little kit packed in ice. You get four cups with really crazy straws coming out. I mean the whole thing is ridiculous.

CORNISH: And the seltzer flavors are pretty silly, too.

FAISON: Dragon Whispers, Mermaid Songs, Yeti Mischief and Unicorn Kisses.

SHAPIRO: If you're wondering what Yeti Mischief tastes like, Faison says it's like lemon-lime with a handful of Skittles thrown in.


LENNY SOLOMON: (Singing) Don't bring me water. I got to have seltzer 'cause water don't bubble, and water don't fizz. Water I hate.

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