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Cool Bottled-Water Packaging


Fat Guy
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Bottled water is under attack from various quarters these days (rightfully so, I think), however I wanted to take a moment to pause and admire the ingenuity of the people who design bottled-water packaging.

It seems that every time I go to the supermarket -- as in, every week -- there's some clever new packaging on display, either from a new player in the market (even though most of the players are owned by the same handful of companies) or from an established brand. Who can fail to love the squat, square bottles from Fiji?

From Poland Spring alone I've recently seen four new packaging concepts. First, there's the stackable gallon. Well, it's actually three liters. But the shape is brilliant. It's a cylindrical bottle with an indentation in the bottom that corresponds exactly to the cap. There's also a handle-type grabbable area molded into the cylinder. Then there's the new 8-ounce bottle designed especially for children. The cap can't come off, and the water is fluoridated. Then you've got your "Grip 'n' Flip" 700ml "sport-top bottle." I don't even know what it does but it looks cool. And finally, who but the Grinch himself wouldn't love the new Aquapod? I have no idea what it's for, but it's awfully cute.

The water people are so much more clever about packaging than the soda people, and I say that knowing full well that they're actually the same people.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Absolutely! Design-wise, bottled waters are king of beverages. VOSS, Ogo, Walnut Grove, Gleneagles, Badoit, Ty Nant, etc. With the market becoming so enormously saturated, producers are forced to be really innovative and unique with their containers in order to help them stand out.

As a designer myself, I'm drawn to things visually appealing, and definitely am one of the idiots to look past actual taste/value/ethics just in order to have something "cool" looking. So if I'm being completely honest with myself, the tactic of a using a cool bottle definitely draws me in, regardless of what's inside it. :P

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I find it interesting that the city of Chicago is debating charging bottled water companies that use the City's filtered water something like 5% tax per bottle. I guess these companies are paying for city water and then dechlorinating it and reselling it.

Not sure if you know Chicago but they always get there piece.

"And in the meantime, listen to your appetite and play with your food."

Alton Brown, Good Eats

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From Poland Spring alone I've recently seen four new packaging concepts. First, there's the stackable gallon. Well, it's actually three liters. But the shape is brilliant. It's a cylindrical bottle with an indentation in the bottom that corresponds exactly to the cap. There's also a handle-type grabbable area molded into the cylinder. Then there's the new 8-ounce bottle designed especially for children. The cap can't come off, and the water is fluoridated. Then you've got your "Grip 'n' Flip" 700ml "sport-top bottle." I don't even know what it does but it looks cool. And finally, who but the Grinch himself wouldn't love the new Aquapod? I have no idea what it's for, but it's awfully cute.

The water people are so much more clever about packaging than the soda people, and I say that knowing full well that they're actually the same people.

The Aquapod isn't exclusive to Poland Spring; we first saw it in May, out in St. Louis, containing some other brand. (It may have been another Nestle brand, I don't remember what it was.)

We stuffed the empties into various corners of our suitcases for my wife to use as bud vases. Do we get any Green credits for that? :laugh:

Here in Jersey the Poland Spring Aquapods go for $3.29 per 8-pack, while you can generally find 24-packs of the old-fashioned 1/2-liter oz bottles for $3.99. That's marketing genius indeed.

Edited by ghostrider (log)

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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The Aquapod isn't exclusive to Poland Spring; we first saw it in May, out in St. Louis, containing some other brand.  (It may have been another Nestle brand, I don't remember what it was.)

Correct. Aquapod is a Nestle design, available in the six regional Nestle variants: Deer Park, Ice Mountain, Ozarka, Poland Spring, Zephyr Hills and Arrowhead.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Standing in line at the crepe stand at the farmer's market today to get my kid a strawberry crepe for $7 that I could have whipped out for him for pennies, guy in front of me asked his daughter to see if there was mineral water in the cooler of drinks for sale. She pulled out a green plastic fat bellied bottle of Perrier. I had never seen that incarnation. Worst part is that it was oddly compelling- I was hot and almost plunked down $1.50 for it.

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Bottled water is under attack from various quarters these days (rightfully so, I think), however I wanted to take a moment to pause and admire the ingenuity of the people who design bottled-water packaging.

While a completely different can of worms, I gotta admire the clever folk who came up w a new campaign for one of the major brands of cola. I am pretty sure it was Coke.

At any rate, while walking about a mile and a half on a low-grade incline home from the farmers market yesterday, the humidity was getting to me. The day started out cool and overcast, but after a half-hearted shower, at noon, things were clammy. I was weighted down w tomatoes, peaches and a padded nylon lunch bag containing five pounds of coarsely ground fat removed from the kidneys of pasture-grazed pigs. Then there was the melon and heavy plastic block of frozen blue liquid that was keeping the fat cold.

On the sides of a bus stop before me was a huge ad for a sweet, bubbly, caloric drink, droplets of water condensed and running down the sides of the chilled can, taunting the sweat spiraling down my neck.

Above the cool metallic drink, this message: "99% water".

Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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We rented an apartment in Paris a couple of years ago that was co-owned by a designer of water bottles. Scandinavian, she had designed many bottles for the most notable European water brands and had a display in the apartment of her work. I have to say it was quite attractive and made a great decorative display. Since that time I have continued to take special note of water bottle designs and always wonder whether she had a hand in any of them. There were quite a few great designs at the Fancy Foods Show in NYC this past July.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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We're lucky here in Portland OR and in most places in the US that we have good water out of the tap. What a blessing to be able to drink, do laundry, take showers in potable water. Portland water is great - I drink a bunch every day. Lot's of my friends use a Britta filter to remove the chlorine.

It's asinine to pay more for water than gasoline.

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I really like the Voss bottle here.

Anyone have tips and where/how to buy some of these cool waters at the lowest possible price???

I have a house with awesome well water, so I think getting some bottles and refilling them with my own water might be the best of both worlds. :-)

-Mark-

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"If you don't want to use butter, add cream."

Julia Child

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I'm not sure precisely where "cultural disequilbrium" comes in here (the kind of culture shock that sets us standing with our mouths at least half-open) but the vast majority of Europeans and throughout the states of North Africa and the Middle-East, people tend to buy their mineral in the simplest plastic bottles, sometimes of one liter, sometimes of 1.5 liters or, for carrying in their purses 1/2 liter. Labels may appeal or not but it is price that carries the day. For most the issue of "status" has nothing whatever to do with it.

And to add to the cultural disequilibrium, in places where the tap water is both drinkable and tasty (e.g. Vienna), people choose to drink tap water.

Me scratcheth my head.

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I don't think the topic here is to debate whether bottled or tap water is better. That probably depends on the where the tap water (or botled) is coming from. The issue here is simply on the ingenuity of the packaging and the imaginative designs therein. I am fortunate to live in a place where the tap water is generally good and so I typically choose it. I still admire the artistry and ingenuity of various water bottlings as I would any other piece of art.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Doc.....

Part of my point was that Europeans and others that I mentioned drink mineral water only if it tastes better or is demonstrably better for health purposes. They do not buy mineral water or the bottles in which the water comes as status symbols. The same is true of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, sometimes precisely the same product appearing in a "normal" and a "designer" bottle.

I think it important to realize that those designer bottles cost a heckuva lot more than the more standard glass bottles (or in the case of water, plastic bottles). Who was it that first coined the phrase about "conspicuous consumption"?

Not to misunderstand - Europeans and others also have their modes of conspicuous consumption. A trait not to be admired no matter from where the consumer comes.

As to the comparison to art - there I would agree with you but only on the level of "looking and not buying". Here in Tel Aviv the water tastes (and often is) dirty. Not health threatening in most cases but certainly not appealing. In our little home (remember that its hot here 8 months of the year) we consume an average of 12 liters of mineral water weekly. What on god's green earth would I do with all of those designer bottles after they had been emptied?

Edited by Daniel Rogov (log)
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Daniel, I do not disagree with you or your points. The utility of the bottles and their contents are certainly debatable as is their value. Nevertheless, there are some pretty cool designs. I am not advocating for anyone to necessarily buy them though :laugh: .

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Part of my point was that Europeans and others that I mentioned drink mineral water only if it tastes better or is demonstrably better for health purposes.

This has not been my experience at all. There are plenty of European cities with excellent drinking water, yet if you go to a restaurant the locals are drinking bottled water. I'm sure they think it's better for them or that it tastes better -- these are the same excuses Americans make -- but I'm equally sure that blind tastings and lab tests would prove them wrong as sure as the same tests demonstrate the silliness of drinking bottled water in America. If anything, in restaurants at least, Americans drink bottled water less often than Europeans, in part because bottled water tends to be cheaper at restaurants in Europe. In addition, plenty of the fancy bottled-water packaging concepts (e.g., Voss) are European in origin. It's true that at the retail level American stores offer more packaging choices, though.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Ah, but blind tastings have been made and in many cases the tasters (generally wine and/or restaurant critics) have successfully identified the differences between various mineral and city waters.

In such a tasting that I took part in in Israel several years ago, all but one identified Jerusalem tap water (pretty poor); nearly all recognized that the water of Mei Eden was precisely the same as that offered up in the taps of the city of Katzrin (correctlly as both waters come from precisely the same spring); and most easily differentiated between the city waters of Tel Aviv and Haifa.

When it came to sparkling mineral waters, most could tell which were naturally sparkling, which had CO2 added, which were Italian or French sourced.

No one was more surprised by the accuracy of the tasting than I.

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OK, to bring the issue back to bottled-water packaging:

I noticed this morning at the convenience store that bottles of soda and water almost all come in bottles with narrow mouths. (The only exception I can think of is Voss, though there are probably a few others.) Bottles of juice and iced tea, on the other hand, almost all come in bottles with wide mouths.

What's up with that? I can't think of practical reason for it; is it just a cultural trope, then?

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Wouldn't that be because the juice and iced tea is in glass bottles, while water is usually plastic? (other than Perrier that is) At least here, that's how things usually are (although I can think of a brand or 2 of iced tea that comes in narrow mouthed plastic bottles).

Kate

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I thought of that. The problem is that there's plenty of juice that comes in plastic bottles, and water that comes in glass bottles.

Now that I think about it, I've seen iced tea that comes in narrow-mouthed plastic bottles; but that's usually produced by a bottler that also produces sodas (I'm thinking Lipton here). So in that case, perhaps the issue is consistency for soda machines?

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  • 5 weeks later...
OK, to bring the issue back to bottled-water packaging:

I noticed this morning at the convenience store that bottles of soda and water almost all come in bottles with narrow mouths.  (The only exception I can think of is Voss, though there are probably a few others.)  Bottles of juice and iced tea, on the other hand, almost all come in bottles with wide mouths.

What's up with that?  I can't think of practical reason for it; is it just a cultural trope, then?

I imagine that the wide mouth bottles are expected to be emptied into a glass with or without ice. While you can drink from them, being glass they can be hard on the teeth.

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This has not been my experience at all. There are plenty of European cities with excellent drinking water, yet if you go to a restaurant the locals are drinking bottled water... In addition, plenty of the fancy bottled-water packaging concepts (e.g., Voss) are European in origin.

Although Voss is Norwegian, I've rarely seen it on offer in Norway. The go-to water is called Farris, which is bottled in pretty non-descript plastic bottles.

Farris bottles

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