Bottled water snobs have little to gush about

September 25, 2006|By KEVIN COWHERD

Over the years, I've run into just about every kind of beverage snob you could run into.

I've run into wine snobs, who seem to drink the stuff just so they can prattle on and on about its bouquet and complexity and bore the hell out of everyone.

I've run into beer snobs who only buy the hottest microbrew and look down on anyone drinking a Bud or Heineken as the Great Unwashed.

I've run into coffee snobs who have to pay five bucks for an Arabian Mocha Sanani at the designer coffee emporiums to be spiritually fulfilled, and when you mention getting a cup of Folgers at the diner, they scrunch up their faces and make gagging sounds.

But now things are really getting out of hand.

Now I'm running into water snobs.

Specifically, I'm running into people who brag about only drinking a certain brand of bottled water, which usually correlates to whichever is priciest.

Before we go any further, let me say that I think the whole notion of buying water is insane in the first place.

If I want water, I turn on the faucet in the kitchen.

Why should I pay for it when I can get it for free?

OK, I guess if you live next to Love Canal or Three Mile Island, or an oil tanker blew up in your neighborhood and the stuff leaked into the ground and contaminated your water supply, bottled water would make sense.

But otherwise, I just don't get why people buy it.

And I definitely don't get how they gush over it, as if drinking it is some great experience in their lives.

Not long ago, I watched a woman in a restaurant wave off the busboy trying to fill her water glass by saying: "Oh, no, I only drink Evian."

The bus boy looked at her like she was nuts.

Then the woman turned to her friend and said: "It's from the French Alps, you know."

Oh.

Well.

If it's from the French Alps ...

Obviously, what this woman was saying was Evian was better than any other water because of where it came from.

But what if Evian came from someplace else?

What if the label, instead of saying "Natural Spring Water From the French Alps," said, oh, "Natural Spring Water From the New Jersey Meadowlands?"

Would she still be waving off the waiter and telling her friend in a loud, pretentious voice: "It's from New Jersey, you know?"

Somehow, I don't think so.

That's why I've said for years that the bottled water industry has perpetrated the biggest scam ever on the American public.

Look, I've had Evian, OK?

And you know what it tastes like?

It tastes like water.

It tastes like Deer Park or Great Bear or Crystal.

It tastes like Dasani or Dannon or Aquafina - or any of these bottled waters that Americans make a big deal over.

By the way, those commercials for Aquafina?

Where everyone in the bar is guzzling bottled water and singing and dancing and toasting each other?

Like it's some kind of wonderful Water Oktoberfest?

What is that all about?

Who gets that excited about drinking water?

Never in my life have I seen a man in an Alpine hat and lederhosen joyously swing a barmaid by the waist because she's bringing a fresh round of waters to the table.

Anyway, I thought the whole bottled-water craze would die down years ago, when people came to their senses.

But that hasn't happened.

If anything, it's gotten even bigger.

Every time I go to a supermarket or convenience store, there's another brand of bottled water on the shelves, waiting for some sucker to plunk down $2.99 for the privilege of drinking it.

I might have to get in on this scam myself.

Maybe it's time to bottle some water in the kitchen and set up a little stand on York Road and see what kind of business we get.

On the label I'll put something like: "Natural Tap Water from Cockeysville, Md."

That alone ought to move a few hundred cases.

kevin.cowherd@baltsun.com

To hear podcasts featuring Kevin Cowherd, go to baltimoresun.com/cowherd.

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