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Q: The history of bottled water in the United States ( Answered,   1 Comment )
Subject: The history of bottled water in the United States
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: answermemike-ga
List Price: $17.00
Posted: 22 Jun 2004 08:26 PDT
Expires: 22 Jul 2004 08:26 PDT
Question ID: 364526
While I have found that there is a wealth of information on the recent
history of bottled water in the US (the explosive growth in the last
decade), I want to know about its beginnings.  I have been unable to
find anything that gives a good, solid background on the origins of
bottled water in America, particularly the transformation from just
drinking tap water to people actually paying for bottled water.  I am
finding that Perrier generally gets credit for starting the category
in the 70s, but I take issue with that as many of the North American
brands now owned by Nestle were started in the late 1800s if not
earlier.  How was bottled water first established in this country? 
Was it based on miracle cures, health benefits, taste?

Then I want information on the shift to bottled water actually
becoming a consumer product as we know it today.  I have not had any
trouble finding a general information for the 90s and beyond, but I
would like more background in the 70s and 80s, beyond the general
stuff on the perrier group's expansion.  Was it just for the rich in
the early days?  Were people able to buy bottled water next to soft
drinks in the 70s and 80s?  Who were the players involved?  How did
things shape up before the sudden 90s boom?  How did the boom get
started? I doubt there are concrete answers to this, but even general
informed opinion would be fine.  I just haven't been able to find much
of anything that devotes more than two lines to the pre-boom water

So, I want information on the early formation (pre 1990's explosion; a
focus on the 70s/80s is fine) of the bottled water category in the
united states. When/how did it become a retail product? Who were the
early players? What was the setup going into the 90's boom (who was
poised for it?)?  What are the opinions on why there was a sudden
boom?  Consumers tired of other options, health craze, marketing
induced mania?
Subject: Re: The history of bottled water in the United States
Answered By: thx1138-ga on 22 Jun 2004 12:17 PDT
Hello answermemike and thank you for your question.

Without doubt, the first bottled waters were sold as 'miracle cures'
and generally were sold at the springs where the water came from. 
People would visit the springs to 'take the waters' and would then
take a bottle or two home with them. There is quite a different reason
for the purchase of bottled waters today. Today people generally buy
bottled water to be healthy (although as you will see, this is not
necessarily the case) not to cure them of any illness.
As for the rise in consumption over the past couple of decades, as you
will see in 1976 300 thousand gallons of bottled water was consumed
compared to 3.4 million in 1997.

Historical sites:

(Very interesting site)
"The first recorded discovery of a medicinal spring, in what was to
eventually become the state of Vermont, relates back to 1776, when one
of the early settlers had a "dream" that revealed a miraculous spring
whose waters could cure his diseased body."

"Spas were also becoming popular in the New World, and as early as
1767, the waters of Jackson's Spa in Boston were bottled and sold to
satisfy a rapidly growing demand for its therapeutic miracles"

"America's first bottled water company was born over 150 years ago on
a rocky hillside in Poland, Maine. The first sale was a 15c stoneware
jugful of "Poland Water."

"In 1872 the first Saratoga Springs bottling plant was opened on the
same site on which it is still bottled today."

"Pagoda Springs also bottled water for the spas and for home use.
People for centuries have been looking for the cure for chronic
rheumatism, skin diseases, obesity and joint disorders?for many the
curative powers of mineral water from the Thumb area proved to be the
"Miracle Cure"

"In 1859, the resort was written up in Hutchings' California Magazine.
According to the article, there were four springs providing curative
waters: White Sulphur, Empire, Congress, and Seltzer."
"Swan continued to develop the resort for the next 20 years. The
bottled water was marketed into the early 20th century."

"Krotz Springs was born and Krotz Famous Mineral Water was shipped all
over the world. An April 12, 1909, advertisement for the water claimed
it "will cure all kinds of stomach, kidney and bowel trouble and

"By the 1920s, Mountain Valley Water was being served in the United
States Senate, a distinction it has enjoyed throughout the years. In
1928, distribution began in California, making Mountain Valley the
first bottled water to be popular from coast to coas."

"1924 GIUSEPPE MUSANTE first bottled water. His company would be the
forerunner of the Calistoga Mineral Water Company"

"The water was advertised as a cure for "malaria, nervous prostration,
insomnia, diabetes, inflammation of the bladder, and venereal disease"
and a preventative against "gout, rheumatism and Brights Disease."

"1930s, Cecil had built several tourist facilities including summer
cottages and the "World's Wonder Waters" bottling plant. In marketing
his bottled water and the resort, Cecil claimed the spring water could
cure a variety of ailments."

"In olden times this kind of water was considered very healthful, and
even if you couldn't sit and soak in it, perhaps you could drink it. A
market for bottled bubbly spring water developed, and people who
couldn't travel to "take the cure" bought the bottled water to drink.
It was a very rare kind of water, and of course very expensive."

"There were many developed springs in Maine in the late 1800?s and
early 1900?s. A 1906 U.S. Geological Survey census showed 44
commercial springs in southern Maine. Public water supplies were often
from rivers and lakes (108 of 149), but many (29) communities used
springs as their source of supply. Only a few springs still supply
water to municipal supplies. Commercial springs often bottled water
for the local market. Bottles of spring water were hauled by wagon
from the spring, where they had been filled, to town, and delivered to
customers. Water from some Maine springs, like Poland Spring, was
shipped worldwide. While the number of spring water bottlers has
dropped, the sophistication of the springs? development, and the
technology involved in bottling the water and marketing it, have
increased dramatically"


More recent facts and figures.

"Many years ago in our C-stores during the late 70's, we stocked
bottled water on our shelves.  Very few bottles were sold and
customers would laugh and tell us it was ridiculous buying water."

"To grow the bottled water category from a per capita consumption of
1.6 gallons in 1976 (less than wine?) to 19.5 gallons in 2001 (a
twelve-fold increase) required a lot more than luck. Sales of bottled
water in the US are expected to overtake those of carbonated soft
drinks by 2005"

"Gary Hemphill, a spokesman for the Beverage Marketing Corporation,
which tracks trends in the beverage industry, says bottled water's
popularity stems from several influences of the 1990s ? convenience
for a more active and mobile society, lifestyle, health habits,
dissatisfaction with tap water"

"So why the bottled water craze? Are we drinking out of those plastic
and colored glass bottles out of necessity, or have we been programmed
to think its necessary? I believe we have been seduced by the bottling
companies and their marketing agents to drink bottled water because
they want us to believe that it?s the best choice for us.

For us to examine how this trend came about, we need to look at
possible catalysts that may have triggered greater demand. One case
involved a study done in the seventies by the Environmental Protection
Agency. The study identified a number of chemicals and minerals in our
municipal water supplies which are unhealthy. The study was set up to
define guidelines for the Safe Drinking Water Act, which had recently
been created. Instead, the results from the study caused fear and near
panic in some areas of the country. This in turn increased demand for
bottled water (Ruesink 1)."

"U.S. Bottled Water Market, 1976-1997, Gallonage"

"Why do consumers choose to drink bottled water? In many cases,
bottled water is an alternative to tap water. Consumers think it
tastes better than tap water (no chlorine taste), they perceive it as
being safer and of better quality. They also look for security: food
scandals in industrialised countries and water-borne diseases in
developing countries have a great impact on their attitude. Bottled
water is perceived as pure and safe, although it is not necessarily
the case. Consumers care for their health and their well-being: they
buy bottled water to feel well, to lose weight. Bottled water is a
healthy alternative to other beverages"

Thank you for your question, and if you need any clarification of my
answer, do not hesitate to ask before rating my answer.

Very best regards


Search strategy included:
"bottled water" history
Subject: Re: The history of bottled water in the United States
From: pinkmoney-ga on 18 Nov 2004 02:06 PST
i found this really useful. i am doing a presenation on bottled water
in america and as stuck on its origins so this came in very handy.

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