Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Soda Stream: Back from the dead

Last week I wrote a blog for Chow.com about an exciting new product called Soda-Club that adds carbonated sparkle to tap water. It's a great idea if you like fizzy water but don't want to buy it bottled. But what I didn't mention in that piece is that the reason the Soda-Club machine I saw it at a friend's house first caught my eye was because the same product used to be popular in the UK back in the Seventies and Eighties under a slightly different brand name: Soda Stream.

Back in those innocent, pre-Perrier days, these magical machines were used to make DIY soft drinks. You would fizz up some water, then add some sweet syrup flavoring of your choice. The problem was that the results always tasted really crappy compared to real Coke, Fanta, Irn-Bru or whatever, and so the machines eventually fell from fashion. Seeing a brand new, silvery Soda Stream pop up in a hip San Francisco apartment was an unexpected turn of events.

Of course, no discussion of the Soda Stream would be complete without mention of the weirdest fruit of its loins. When you bought a Soda Stream machine, you would always get a few free bottles of soft drink syrup along with it, one of which (for some peculiar reason no one has been able to explain) would be "Dandelion & Burdock" flavour. This strange concoction can best be described as some sort of ancient, mythical British soft drink: think Moxie combined with Dr Pepper, but much weirder and made by witches.

No one ever drank it, so anyone who owned a Soda Stream would find themselves stuck with an old, yellowed, sticky plastic bottle of the stuff, lurking menacingly behind their shiny modern soft-drinks maker. In fact, lots of forgotten, nearly full containers of this peculiar potion are probably still hiding in the darkest reaches of kitchen cupboards across Britain, ready and waiting for the unlikely revival of home fizzmaking.

Be quiet, strange syrups, your time may come again ...

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