Conservative Commentator Believes Seltzer Turned NY Jews into Liberals

I thought I heard them all before! In this clip, Michael Savage, a conservative radio host, tries to understand Bernie Sanders, and ends up on this bizarre rant about seltzer:

“I still think the seltzer has something to do with it. If I had the time, I’d go back to my scientific background and I would do an epidemiological study of the use of seltzer and liberalism and the insanity of liberalism. I think that the high carbon dioxide content, the little bubbles of carbon dioxide poisoned the brains of millions of kids in Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan. Seltzer bottles. It’s like toxic lead. It’s like Dr. Schuze’s X-ray machines on the feet, the cancer machines.”
Thanks to Right Wing Watch for turning me on to this fascinating soundbite.

Zeltzer Seltzer and Alphy’s Soda Pop Club

I just got off the phone interviewing Randy Miller, who at 17 – not yet out of high school – launched a new beverage company with his dad: Original New York Seltzer. The brand played a big role in making seltzer hip in the 80s and introducing the idea of  flavored seltzer in a bottle to America.

Through our interview Randy, who was very generous with his time and stories, turned me on to many things from the 80s of which I had no idea.

One was Zeltzer Seltzer. Anheuser-Busch, who was negotiating with ONYS for a purchase, decided to make their own, which ultimately failed. Check out this crazy radio ad:

When I asked about Randy’s famous jump – featured in the ONYS ad below – I learned about Alphy’s Soda Pop Club. But first the ad:

Turns out the jump wasn’t filmed FOR the ad. Rather, it was done, in part, for Alphy’s Soda Pop Club, and later used for the ad. Miller was the sponsor for the Club and, having always wanted to be a stunt man, used the opportunity to do his thing. But what, you might ask, was Alphy’s Soda Pop Club?

A regular attendee, who did this great but sad interview with fellow attendee Corey Haim about it, described it this way: “Alphy’s Soda Pop Club, the one and only disco designed for kids ‘in the industry,’ enjoyed a Hollywood lifespan of three years, from 1986 to 1989. With a clientele aged 16 and under, the club guaranteed a dance floor full of the hottest teen stars as well as all the free soda you could drink. It was the ultimate teenage wonderland.”

In the interview Corey talks about holding Miller’s tiger for him during his jump and about how close they were.

Randy Miller is one of the coolest people I have ever met… I hung with Randy a lot. He was one of my best friends. I will forever love Randy.

Yes, Randy not old started a multi-million dollar beverage company that changed the face of seltzer, he also had a passion for big cats.

Again, Corey:

One time, Randy, myself, and two other people—we were in a limousine with a jaguar, and Randy passed me the leash and said, “Hold it from here, and if he gets out of line, just hit him lightly on the side of his head and say, ‘Down! Down! Down!’ Just give him the commands I’m giving you.” And then suddenly the jaguar woke up in the limo and let out a RAAAAAWWR, so the vet who was in there had to shoot him up with a little bit of a tranquilizer. I mean, you’re talking about a wild animal in a limousine! You know what I mean? Everybody could have been dead! But by the time we got out of the limo, I was holding the jaguar and everything was cool.

How do I spend more than a decade writing this book and not learn about such a fascinating piece of seltzer history until now?!!

“Treasure Coast company restores old fashioned ‘Seltzer Man'”

Florida seltzerman, Ryan Pinnell from Treasure Coast Seltzer Works, received this excellent local TV coverage. Ryan and the fascinating origins of his interest in seltzer are in my book.Treasure Coast company restores old fashioned ‘Seltzer Man’

Story by Mary Quinn O’Connor/CBS12WEST PALM BEACH (CBS12) — While soda consumption is down in America, Americans still like a little fizz in their drinks.

Ryan Pinnell from Treasure Coast Seltzer Works has what he says is the perfect compromise.

“Seltzer is water with bubbles,” said Pinnell.

No caffeine, no chemicals and no calories – unlike its counterparts tonic water and club soda.

Treasure Coast Seltzer Works is one of the only four siphoned seltzer water manufacturers in the country, with old fashioned delivery services taking many on a trip down memory lane.

“We are the old school seltzer man,” said Pinnell.

The recent resurgence in the fizzy drink has business better than ever.

For the tenth straight year, soda consumption is down.

Americans drank nearly 1.5 billion fewer cases last year than in 2004, when soda sales hit an all-time high.

In the meantime, carbonated water sales are booming

“Look at the big players, Pepsi, Canada Dry.  They are all launching sparkling products,” said Pinnell. “It’s very difficult for a large bottler to do what we do.”

The proof is in the pudding for Pinnell. Since founded in 2012, Treasure Coast Seltzer Works have seen around 40 percent growth each year.

They hand-bottle more than 1200 bottles a day.

It keeps him busy, but he says that’s not such a bad thing.

“You put so much time into something, it’s your baby,” said Pinnell.

Video from my appearance on CBS This Morning

Today CBS aired the fantastic piece on seltzer’s resurgence (take a drink every time you hear the word) which is a sort of a video version of the recent Wall Street Journal piece. Not that I’m complaining – the more press outlets that cover the rise of seltzer the more people will understand how timely my book is, which captures that very transition.

You can watch the full piece on their web site here or just watch it below:

I thought they did a great job with the piece. What do you think?

I will be on CBS News tomorrow

Inspired by the Wall Street Journal article earlier this summer, CBS News contacted me to be the “seltzer expert” in their piece expected to air tomorrow morning, Saturday, on CBS Morning Show (8:15 a.m. in NYC). It was flattering to be asked and awesome to be part of yet another of what I am calling the “seltzer resurgence” meme in the press this summer.

I met them on 11th avenue and 45th street, at a bar that serves seltzer from The Brooklyn Seltzer Boys. I sat at a table with Mark Albert, glasses of seltzer between us, and for a half hour or so we talked seltzer.

Getting my microphone on.
Getting my microphone on.


I look forward to watching it tomorrow and sharing it with all of you. If you watch, let me know what you think!


Interviewing George Williams, an 86-year old African-American seltzerman

When I interviewed Kenny Gomberg many years ago, proprietor of Gomberg’s Seltzer Works, he told me about a former employee, George Williams, who retired in the 1970s. An African-American who moved as a boy from North Carolina, he worked in a number of seltzer works around NYC for over two decades. I was very interested in his story – both as an individual and to the extent it shed light on the African-American labor that worked behind the scenes to keep the city in seltzer.

After a number of years, I finally got to sit down with Mr. Williams this week, now 86 years old (it’s been a busy week for me and seltzer!). It was fascinating to hear the tale of how he entered the business (while competing on the boxing circuit), learned Yiddish from his new boss, and spent five years fighting to get into the Hebrew Soda Workers Union.


Visiting Pittsburgh Seltzer Works for the 1st Time

This past week I was in Pittsburgh and meet in person, for the first, John Seekings, proprietor of the Pittsburgh Seltzer Works, whom I have been interviewing for over 4 years and whose business is the centerpiece of my book. It was thrilling to meet him for the first time and to walk the floors of the Works. John was as generous as ever – with his time and stories – and helped me to understand the Works in a new way, up-close and personal.

I took a video that I will prepare and share at a later date but, in advance, here are some photos. (View all the photos here)

John Seekings


The infamous bottles of death (which open my book and introduce the readers to John Seekings).


A seltzer filling machine and the Work’s sign.

Continue reading Visiting Pittsburgh Seltzer Works for the 1st Time

Audio from “Science of Seltzer” Talk in Pittsburgh

This week I was delighted to do a reading from my manuscript in Pittsburgh – a city that plays a central role in my book – at the wonderful Center for PostNatural History.

Center For PostNatural HistoryHere’s a video walk-through of the museum (no audio):

And here’s the full audio from the talk, in which I read two sections – “Sourless Mice” and “Bottles of Death” – and then took questions:

Center for PostNatural History

I’m speaking this month in Pittsburgh on the “Science of Seltzer”

I’m going to be in Pittsburgh in two weeks for a work related conference. A few months ago, I reached out to the Center for Postnatural History, as I was excited to visit them. After some back and forth, we decided I would do a reading from the book, and called it “The Science of Seltzer”. You can read more about it here.

This will be my first time doing a reading now that I have an agent for the book and the first time I will be doing a reading in the city that plays such a central role within the narrative. I’m super-excited.

And since it’s a science-related talk at a (post)natural history museum, I made a fun promotional photo wearing my work shirt:


New Seltzer Article in Wall Street Journal; Mentions My Book

There’s a great new article in the Wall Street Journal on seltzer, “Buy Into These Bubbles: Seltzer’s Fizz Is Back.” Below is the excerpt that quotes me:

Barry Joseph, an associate director at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, began researching seltzer more than a decade ago after writing a review of a SodaStream machine for a Jewish news site. In response, he heard from dozens of people who wanted to share memories—of seltzer delivery men injured by exploding bottles and childhood egg creams, the combination of milk, chocolate syrup and seltzer that tastes like fizzy chocolate milk.

Mr. Joseph has written a book-length history of the beverage and is working to get it published. He says soda water was invented by Joseph Priestley,an 18th century theologian and chemist credited with discovering oxygen, who found a way to infuse water with fixed air. Several years later, Johann Jacob Schweppe, for whom the Schweppes brand is named, founded the technique to mass-produce fizzy water. The rise in inventive and homemade cocktails has helped draw more people to seltzer, Mr. Joseph says.

To read the whole article, check out this pdf a good fan sent me, or go right to their web site.

The Effervescent Age