A refreshing glass of soda

The first in an occasional series of (only) slightly less serious looks at the challenges of kitchen and home tech from humorist and blogger, Janet Payton.

Growing up in late 70s and early 80s, I regularly enjoyed healthy, home-cooked meals prepared by my mother. But my parents were children during WWII, and wartime sugar rationing clearly had an impact on their eating habits. They stockpiled the sweet stuff like a squirrel storing nuts for the winter. As a result, I regularly feasted on sugary sodas, candy bars, ice cream, and all things Hostess.

As an adult, I have managed to cut down on junk food and soda consumption, but I still toss back a couple of Diet Cokes every week. Yes, I know soda, particularly diet soda, is terrible for me (thanks a lot, well-meaning Facebook friends). But I’m a lazy person, and soda is tasty and convenient. I also don’t take vitamins or floss regularly. Feel free to call my health care professionals.

I wanted to stop drinking diet soda permanently, but I still craved something cold and fizzy. I tried mineral water flavored with lemon. Meh. Later I resorted to kombucha, which is very expensive and tastes like the spoiled root beer I made in my 6th-grade science class. Kombucha is supposed to aid in digestion, but if you’re someone like me who is blessed with excellent digestion (probably because I don’t take vitamins), it just makes you sick to your stomach. Plus I think you’re required to do yoga while you drink it. Blech.

Enter the home soda maker.  

The home soda maker has always seemed kind of unnecessary to me. The idea behind any good kitchen technology is that it’s supposed to make life easier for working parents. You know, so we have more time to pretend to help our kids with homework or search for something we haven’t seen yet on Netflix. But is there anything easier or cheaper than grabbing a delicious carbonated beverage? They’re everywhere. That said, the Gen-Xer in me liked the idea that I could make healthier, fancier sodas, while also cutting down on waste. Healthy and good for the environment? Sign me up. I was jazzed to use this new technology to make me feel even more self-righteous.

So off I went to my local one stop shopping center to pick up some kale-based dinner options and the SodaStream PLAY. I wanted to add my own natural flavorings to my sodas, but I can’t resist a good impulse buy, so I threw some SodaStream Diet Dr. Pete syrup in my cart purely for the comic potential. I know. I know. Those syrups are no better for me than convenient store-bought beverages. But it’s Diet Dr. Pete for cryin’ out loud! I had to try it at least once.

Back home, I walked into my kitchen with my groceries and new gadget to find my work-at-home husband standing in his underwear making his third cup of coffee. He laughed at my purchase (and, I might add, Diet Dr. Pete killed!), but in the time I turned my back to put away the bread, he had busted open the box like a child on Christmas morning and had started to force-fit pieces of my new purchase together. 

I am a rule follower, so after whipping out the instruction manual and frantically scanning two full pages of warnings about personal injury, property damage and CO2 death scares. I was convinced this was going to turn into an episode of Jackass. I considered Facebook-livestreaming our adventure, but one of us wasn’t dressed for it.

Me: Could a CO2 leak from this bottle kill us?

My husband: Not sure. I guess we’ll find out!

By the time I had finished reading the warnings out loud, my husband had nearly assembled the whole device. I was ready to give it a go, but by this point, the promise of certain death had me so on edge that as soon as I inserted the carbonating bottleneck in the Snap-Lock position and it made the slightest of sounds, I jumped about a foot.

Me (handing bottle to my husband): Here, you do it. But put some pants on first.

Most things don’t scare me. I am the one who kills all the spiders in the house. I enjoy public speaking. I find ventriloquist dummies charming. I just don’t like gas or the potential for explosions of any kind. This is why you will never see me lighting the grill. That story about ESPN’S Hannah Storm losing her eyebrows and eyelashes after her gas grill exploded in her face might as well have been written by Stephen King. It haunts me to this day.

My inner voice of reason ultimately prevailed. Really, what are the odds a company would make a soda machine that’s appealing to children and also highly explosive? Besides, my husband looked like he was having too much fun with my new purchase. I made him step aside, and I took charge of the situation.

I snapped the bottle into place, pushed down on the carbonating block a few times, added some very-bad-for-me syrup flavoring to the fizzy water, and within seconds  I had a refreshing Diet Dr. Pete. Granted, buying a Diet Coke at the store is way easier and probably cheaper, but the level of smugness I felt was totally worth it. I made my own soda. It was like I was homebrewing beer, only without the mess of fermentation, beards, and utilikilts. And it was good too! If only my 6th-grade science teacher could see me now.

Bottom line: I like this home soda maker. It’s lightweight, doesn’t require a plug-in or batteries, and takes up minimal counter space. And it’s fun! You can control the amount of bubbles and flavoring depending on the person or mood. For instance, if I’ve had a particularly hard day, I can totally go wild with a few more hits of the carbonating block, and then throw in a couple of extra shots of Dr. Pete.

I look forward to trying new natural flavors, which is the main reason for buying the SodaStream PLAY in the first place. There’s a rhubarb soda I’m dying to make with my neighbor’s homegrown rhubarb. I’m sure I’ll eventually add some sugar to a few of these concoctions. In honor of my parents, of course. I wouldn’t want their sugar rationing to have been in vain.

Image credit: K.G.23 on Flickr