This article examines the overlapping histories of health, spirituality, technology, and taste that transformed the American bottled water industry in the nineteenth century. The search for curative mineral waters originated in ancient times, and by the end of the eighteenth century, chemists found a way to artificially carbonate water, which, they correctly assumed, purified it as well. A Philadelphia perfumier, Eugene Roussel, introduced sweetened carbonated beverages to American consumers and helped revive a domestic glassworks capable of producing bottles on a massive scale. Sweeter drinks, exotic flavors, and savvy marketing fueled the fizzy water business, and Philadelphia stood at the nexus of those developments. Centuries of commoditization have depleted this most basic human necessity, and the US is primarily responsible for this overconsumption. As Americans move forward in the twenty-first century, they must reassess their relationship to drinking water and decide whether access to it is a human right or a paid privilege.


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pp. 239-267
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