Ollie’s Opinions: Why Joseph Priestley Needs to Take the Fizz Back Out of Seltzer

by Ollie Arnold

4 mins read
slices of lemon in glass with drink
Photo by Any Lane on Pexels.com

If you know me, you might know that I’m from Worcester, Massachusetts. Worcester is the birthplace of some of the world’s greatest inventions: the original yellow smiley face, the commercialized Valentine, Table Talk pies and more. Even though I greatly enjoy my local wonders, there is one I will never love, regardless of how delightful their polar bear mascot is.

I just don’t think seltzer is very good.

Polar Seltzer, as found on their website, made its home in Worcester in 1882, when Dennis Crowley decided that his new sparkling water would be a good way to draw customers into his main business: whiskey. Unfortunately for him, the Prohibition was on the way. As a result, Crowley had to give up whiskey and  he shifted fully to the making of seltzer. If Crowley was just using the seltzer as a marketing campaign for something that tastes like paint thinner, I can only imagine that he didn’t think it was that good.

glass of alcohol cocktail on white surface
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

My problem is not with Crowley, whose family continues to run Polar to this day. The man with whom I have a quarrel is Joseph Priestley, the person who discovered how to get the fizz into water. According to seltzernation.com, in 1767 Priestley discovered that he could infuse water with carbon dioxide by suspending a bowl of water over a beer vat in a brewery. Ever since then, humanity has had an inexplicable fascination with making their tongue feel like tiny frogs are clawing their way through their taste buds.

Carbonation infuriates me. There are five senses and the tongue is in charge of taste. Why must it suddenly be involved with the sense of touch? Fizzy things make me imagine a world in which my drink is trying to escape the prison cell of my mouth by slapping it as hard as possible everywhere at once. Call me absurd, but I like my beverages calm and quiet.

The presence of air is something I could almost excuse. The lack of flavor is another whatsoever. The very few sips of seltzer I’ve had in my many years have all tasted faintly like the inside of a used balloon. I am of the strong belief that a drink should either have a flavor or be water. A drink that’s only slightly flavored is a fate worse than death. If you’ve tried to get lemonade at The Commons this past week, you know what I’m talking about. It’s not nice.

While I cannot possibly hope to understand humanity’s longing for bubbles and hints of lime, I also cannot stop them from voraciously guzzling as much angry water as they can fit into their bodies. I can only hope to lure them away from the dark side.

To my readers who are seltzer enjoyers, consider trying something else. You might find that you enjoy your drink even more when it isn’t performing amateur acupuncture on the inside of your mouth. But if you choose to stand by your seltzer-drinking ways, just know that I can’t condone that kind of behavior.
Are you incredibly furious about something? Email oarnold@drew.edu for a chance to have your least favorite things featured or just to commiserate.

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