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Drinking HistoryFifteen Turning Points in the Making of American Beverages$
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Andrew Smith

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231151177

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231151177.001.0001

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The Only Proper Drink for Man

The Only Proper Drink for Man

(p.217) 14 The Only Proper Drink for Man
Drinking History

Andrew F. Smith

Columbia University Press

This chapter discusses the history of the American bottled water industry. In the nineteenth century, the rapid expansion of American cities led to problems with municipal water supplies. By 1900, about 200 of every 100,000 deaths in America were caused by waterborne diseases. In the 1960s and early 1970s, the environmental movement raised concerns about the dumping of industrial waste and untreated sewage into the nation’s rivers and lakes. Bottled water companies and home water filter manufacturers launched a continuous assault on tap water, generating serious doubt about its quality in the minds of many Americans. Bottled water sales rose, and, in addition to the delivery of water-cooler-size quantities, bottled water subsequently was sold in more manageable one-gallon and smaller sizes at grocery stores and supermarkets. In 1977, veteran advertising executive Bruce Nevins conceived a promotional campaign for Perrier that meshed perfectly with the rise of anti-tap-water sentiment. To distinguish Perrier from cheaper brands of seltzer and soda water, it was described as “naturally carbonated” by unique processes that took place deep underground within the Perrier spring. Within a decade, Americans everywhere—at work, play, home, or on the road—could be seen clutching their ever-present plastic bottles of brand-name water.

Keywords:   bottled water, Perrier, brand-name water, tap water, water safety, water-borne disease

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