29 November 2007

The Bottled Water Boom

Fom the Sun, 14 October 1980:

Have we gone completely soppy in the brain? This year we will spend £12million... on water.

Bottled water is surging out of super-markets, springing out of off-licences, pouring out of pubs!

It is estimated that nearly half a million housewives include mineral water on their shopping list each week.

We hadn't seen nothin' yet! Of course mineral water was nothing new, it used to be the province of posh wine merchants and posh hotels, but it was starting to increase in popularity in no uncertain terms. This was down to the cries of "don't drink the water!" on holidays abroad, and the ever increasing number of people taking cheap package holidays abroad since the 1960s.

So, why do it at home? Snob value? Because you appreciate the taste? Because it's good for you? To avoid the additives in tap water?

In the early 1980s, thoroughly working class little old me had never even considered the notion of bottled water. Neither, as far as I know, had my thoroughly working class family or thoroughly working class neighbours. None of us could afford to go abroad on even the cheapest package deal. Bottled water would have seemed a potty concept to us back then. Mum may have liked a gin and tonic at the local Labour Club on a Saturday night but that was as far as it went.

I recall, c. 1984, The non-alcoholic drink to drink if out and about in hot weather was a Slush Puppy, a gloriously sweet, gloriously icy fruit drink which was briefly "all the rage". Well, it was round my neck of the woods.

It was really during the yuppie boom years of the mid-to-late '80s that we began to hear of bottled water. It was sooo trendy. So health giving. So swanky. I boggled at the idea. If I was out and about and felt dry, a pint of Stella at the nearest boozah or a bottle of Coke from Sainsbury's was my saviour. I wasn't going to waste money on water. And as for the argument that so much of our tap water was recycled, well - it had seen me right so far!

The type of twits who were wasting money on water were also the type of twits who were spending a bundle on nouvelle cuisine. How twitty could you get?

You wouldn't catch me doing it...

And yet, by the early '90s, if thirsty whilst out and about, I often would swig back a nice little bottle of Plonky Downs or Malvern Spring or some such - much better for you than all that sugar in fizzy drinks, and didn't it have rather a delicate taste? Mmm, rather tickled the taste buds - know what I mean, darling? All the same I never drank it at home. My fridge remained bereft of Perrier.

Nowadays the light has really dawned, although it took time. I still don't swig yuppie water at home, but I do avoid all those absolutely dreadful sugary fizzies when I'm out and about on the hoof.

I take a couple of bottles of tap with me.

Scrummy, darling!

Cosmopolitan magazine, July 1983: "Good Food Costs Less At Sainsbury's" - and don't forget the fancy water! Sainsbury's had its own varieties - from Shropshire and Perthshire - in 1983.

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