All The Very Specific Reasons I Hate Seltzer

You all can enjoy your cans of fizzy sparkling water. But you can’t make me do the same.

I'm a sensory person, so I understand that my food and drink preferences do not always line up with what many other people tolerate or outright enjoy. That's fine. Case in point: Whenever I host guests in my home, I try to provide a range of beverage options, including several varieties of sparkling water, despite the fact that I can't stand the stuff. Yes, I hate seltzer. Why? A multitude of reasons. 

At the risk of sounding like Jerry Seinfeld, what is the deal with bubbly water? My theory: In the '80s and '90s, fancy still bottled water was all the rage, but with rise of environmentalism and mounting pressure to reduce our plastic usage, we've all made the switch to Hydro Flasks full of filtered tap water. Thus, it's no longer considered classy to provide the leading brands of still water in a social setting—rather, it's much fancier to drink sparkling water, or at least pour LaCroix all over a colleague's face after they get wasabi in their eyes. (Man, I miss Succession Sundays.)

Haters of fizzy water are confronted with it everywhere they go. I've noticed, for example, the proliferation of sparkling water at children's birthday parties. Parents typically don't like to eat at kids' birthday parties but do like the social break one gets from taking a sip of something. Alcohol is generally not served at such events, at least not in my circles; therefore, people like to hold a can of bubbly water like a beer. The social lubricant is psychosomatic: Holding a can makes everyone feel like they're cutting loose at a backyard barbecue, not making small talk about how the kids are doing with multiplication while the youngest one throws a tantrum on the floor. I often say yes to a bubbly water in this scenario, if only to make things easier on the host who has spent hours shopping and preparing for this event. As soon as I accept a can of seltzer, however, I suffer the consequences of my desperate need to please people and fit in.

After I drink any amount of sparkling water, I will inevitably have a small internal burp. This burp always hurts, which apparently is the appeal for some people. The bubbles register as "sharp," and, like a child, I will often refer to it as "spicy water." The tight bubbles are too prickly around my sinuses. The science behind this is that soda has sugary syrup, which thickens the solution and dulls the carbonation. With these fruit-essence soda waters, the bubbles fly free and accost me from within.

There's a holiness to bubbly water that I resent, too. Many brands market themselves as "guilt free" because their products contain natural flavor but no calories. This language targets people who might prefer a soda pop but are not allowing themselves the "indulgence" of a sugary drink or the "poison" of a diet soda. (Note: artificial sweeteners do not cause cancer.) As a rebellion against diet culture, I will not partake in a beverage marketed to make me feel bad about my beverage choices.

People keep encouraging me to try different brands, different flavors—I'm repeatedly told there's a seltzer out there for everyone. In preparation for this article and to generally try to shut people up, I have officially sampled many, many brands and multiple flavors of bubbly water. My hypothesis has been tested, and I have reached the conclusion: I don't like this product and you can't convince me I ever will.

This is true of many things in life, by the way, not just beverages. "Have you tried it?" loved ones might ask about a particular food or cuisine or activity or general way of life. "YES!" I proclaim, frustrated and wishing they trusted me to know my own preferences. (Sometimes my answer is, "No, I don't wanna!" in which case they roll their eyes and tell me I have a bad attitude.)

We all know the expression, "Don't yuck someone's yum." In the case of sparkling water, I wish to propose the opposite: Don't yum my yuck. Let me dislike it. Next time someone offers me a bubbly water, I will politely demur. Or at least, that's the goal. Most likely I'll accept a can of La Croix, hide my grimace after each sip, and secretly wish I had been offered a glass of room-temperature tap water instead.