Category Archives: Open Sourced Research

Seltzer Water on Kibbutzim

I received this wonderful email from Yam, in Israel, last week, who gave me permission to share with all of you:


I live on a kibbutz founded in 1973, moved here in 1981. Visitors still ask, “Where’s the soda water?” [in the dining hall]. Apparently, kibbutzim and soda water was a “thing”, so much so that the dispenser in the dining hall is the only thing many folks recall from their visit to a kibbutz.
We never had it here at Ketura, as far as I can recall, so it must’ve been a “thing” only until circa 1970s.
I just started drinking seltzer this year, having never been interested before, and love it. I had digestive issues that it helped and now I’m hooked. My husband and I go through a liter a day.
I found your site after wondering about the connection between New York Jews and seltzer. I grew up in the Midwest, where we bought 24-packs of store brand (Cragmont) soft drinks in various flavors and stored them in the garage. I’d assumed that seltzer’s popularity waned when people (Jews?) moved to the suburbs, bought cars, and did their shopping at supermarkets. My dad, who grew up on the Lower East Side, still likes his Dr. Brown’s. After searching, we found unflavored club soda at a supermarket (Walmart?) for 63 cents a bottle. Can’t beat that price!

Images from “Soda water, a cult drink in Hungary”

I previously wrote about discovering the Hungarian seltzer museum, and associated book. Below I will share some of my favorite images from the book and associated captions or descriptions.
Austrian Postcard from end of the 19th century

One of many examples of unusual siphon heads, the “soul of the siphon”
‎”Syphon-head beaks in the shape of eagle of snake he [sic] are exciting and interesting particularly if we know: they were developed to prevent that the consumer could not put the bottle into his mouth, and abandoned women could not use them for other purposes.”

‎”The ‘shaking hands’ of the tavenkeepers’ soda factory in Szeged is a more conciliatory message and can be understood as the symbol of composure, compromise, and cooperation.”

Austrian Postcard from end of the 19th century

“When it was still a fun” [sic]

“When summer has arrived”

One of many beautiful and exotic siphons in the book

Seltzer in Hungary – A “Hungarian Cult Drink”

I am always amazed to discover anything new about seltzer – and each month I am surprised. Last month my surprise regarded a seltzer museum in Hungary, perhaps the world’s only seltzer museum.
Here is some information I obtain by emailing someone who had posed these fantastic 360 degree photos of the exhibit:

I am sending the informations and the pictures of the Soda Museum of Szeged.
The Soda Museum of Szeged
One attraction of the water tower (called Old Lady) of the Saint Stephen square in Szeged is the Water Museum placed on the ground floor in the tower. István Bánffi collected its pieces. In the permanent exhibition the audience can get to know the story of the soda, from Ányos Jedlik’s invention to novadays.
István Bánffi’s father – who was a sodamaker, either – kept the ornamental soda bottles, and he started to collect the relics in planned form approximately 15 years ago. In the exibithion, there are 1200 soda bottles and 30 kind of sodamaking machines, just the most beautiful ones. There are also commercials, plaquets, postcards and specifications of soda water making.
Best regards:
Illés Tibor

I later learned that this was a traveling exhibit that, after touring the country, found a home in Szeged.
Soon after a book was published based on the collection – “Soda water, a cult drink in Hungary” – which was mailed to be by it’s gracious author Imre Kiss.
When I got home today I found waiting for me a package with this postage attached:
Written in Hungarian alongside an English translation, with many photos, it is just fantastic. I am only a few pages in, but here are a few details:
“Dear Readers, when reading this book, please, think of the colleagues of ours who were purposed to supply the buyers with soda water by working hard on icy or sultry days, be it winter or summer time, who survived two works wars, economic crises, revolutions, the horrible time of nationalism and the years of socialism.”
“Soda water symbolizes sparkling life, activity and dynamic force and there, deep in our minds, it works like a volcano to erupt, and that is why we like this drink. Knowing the maxim that says ‘we get identical to what we eat,’ we come to love it easily because we ourselves want to be something like that.”

The Supreme Seltzer Survey

After over 100 hundreds interviews that I did for my seltzer book, it finally hit me: let people online respond. I don’t know what took me so long but finally, at long last, here it is!
The Supreme Seltzer Survey!
It shouldn’t take more than a minute. Please respond now and help shape the book’s research and answer the ultimate question: what does seltzer mean?

New Seltzer Documentary!

I am so excited to learn just now about a new documentary short focused on the amazing Gomberg Seltzer Works in Brooklyn, where all the seltzer delivery men go to get their siphons refilled.
While I once worked a few blocks away in Canarsie, I never made it for a visit. I still hope to do so for the book. Until then I hope to figure out how to watch this short.
Maybe the director, Jessica Edwards, will tell me if and how I can share it here.
Thanks to Dan Friedman, Arts and Culture Editor, The Forward, for letting me know. (More on Dan in the future and his unexpected seltzer connections…)
[Update: 3/11/010]
I just heard from the director! Details below:

    Hi Barry!
    Thanks so much for getting in touch! I saw your blog when I was researching
    the film.
    Seltzer Works is playing several film festivals this spring including one in Texas on Saturday at SXSW. Its our world premiere! I was looking for a bottler down there to get some seltzer for our party, but no luck!
    Look forward to your book! And keep me posted on how its going!

If you want me to see if Jessica can share some of the film with us here, please let me know!

Egg Cream Zodiac?

Seth Front has created the The Jewish Zodiac, after a stint at a Chinese restaurant, with one featuring Egg Creams, as you can see below.
Lots of fun! In case you are wondering, 2010 is the Year of the Schmear: “This year, don’t spread yourself too thin.”
You can buy the Egg Cream t-shirt here. It states that those born in the Year of the Egg Cream are as follows: “You’ve got a devious personality since you’re made with neither eggs nor cream. Friends find your pranks refreshing; others think you’re too frothy. Compatible with Blintz, who also has something to hide.” And of course the shirt comes in one color: Chocolate (my wife, who prefers vanilla egg creams, might have something to say about that).
Personally, I am the Year of the Chopped Liver. You can check out the whole Jewish Zodiac at

Seltzer man back in business!

Seltzer Man Returns, and the Fizz Flows Again in Brooklyn
By Corey Kilgannon
Ronny the Seltzer Man is back.
The great seltzer drought of Brooklyn is over.
Ronny Beberman, 62, one of the last seltzer deliverymen in the city, fell from his truck on Sept. 15 while making deliveries in Gravesend, sending him to the hospital with multiple fractures and lacerations, and depriving his faithful flock of several hundred steady customers of seltzer.

Continue reading Seltzer man back in business!