Markets in everything

by on July 30, 2009 at 6:41 am in Food and Drink | Permalink

This one is from Jacqueline:

"Tap water?" said Alison Szeli, 26, picking up the clear plastic bottle
with orange letters: "Tap'd NY. Purified New York City tap water."

She studied the description: "No glaciers were harmed in making this
water." She compared prices: Smartwater cost $1.85. Tap'd NY was 35
cents less.

I suspect this will seem odder to you, the older you are.

1 Bob Knaus July 30, 2009 at 7:08 am

I dated a woman who was the controller for a company that manufactures sodas and bottled waters. One of their brands is “Mt. Shasta” – “Since 1883”. On the back of the bottle it says “Source: Miami municipal water supply”.

They purify it by reverse osmosis. The process leaves a thick sludge, mostly the calcium carbonate and other minerals removed from the water. Miami Water & Sewer charges them the high rate for toxic industrial waste to dispose of the sludge.

In essence, you can flush all the treated municipal water down the sewer you like at the standard rate. But if you try to hand them back just the impurities in the water, you get charged the toxic rate.

2 anon July 30, 2009 at 7:38 am

I’m 57 and my reaction was – good marketing!

Not sure I could say NYC tap water is the best in the world but I’ve been a regular visitor there for the last 35 years and never had a problem drinking NYC tap water.

Now we filter all of our water at home and office using a Big Berkey and we make our own seltzer using the SodaClub, and we no longer buy bottled water or seltzer. We’re drinking a lot more water. For a LOT less money.

3 Tom July 30, 2009 at 9:13 am

“Smartwater cost $1.85. Tap’d NY was 35 cents less.”

Or go to BJ’s and I assume Cosco or Sam’s club and buy it for $.18 / bottle.

4 Gabe July 30, 2009 at 9:56 am

Ya Sodium Fluoride is good for you 1ppm is the standard rate although it is legal up to 4 ppm. If you drink 2.5 liter of tap water your getting as much sodium fluoride as you get in on cubic centimeter of .25%(2500 ppm) toothpaste. It is smart to medicate the public in arbitrary dosages depending on how much water you drink…this is especially good for babies that can drink a couple liters of tap water a day that is mixed into their formula. Everyone should also just ingest a cubic ccentimeter of toothpaste a day to be extra safe.

5 Pete July 30, 2009 at 10:39 am


There are two Costco’s within the 5 boroughs (one in downtown Brooklyn and one in Queens) but who wants to hop on the Subway with the kind of massive haul that is typical of a trip to Costco/Sam’s? New Yorkers’ needs are different from those of the vast majority of Americans which is what allows this enterprise to be successful.

6 Curt Fischer July 30, 2009 at 11:14 am

“No glaciers were harmed in making this water.”

But what about when making the bottle?…ZING!

7 Thelonious_Nick July 30, 2009 at 11:44 am

Oh noes! Sodium fluoride! I’m 33 and this doesn’t seem odd, just pointlessly wasteful. I have been trying for years to get my wife to quit buying bottled water, or at the least buy just one bottle and refill it with tap water. So far my mission is unsuccessful. I’m thinking the Brita we bought might do the trick. The Brita is also an unnecessary expense, but still cheaper than the $10 in bottled water from the grocery store every week.

8 Walt July 30, 2009 at 12:17 pm

I’m 53 and find it convenient to buy a few bottles of clean water for the road. Refillable containers have to be washed and dried and never seem to be at hand.

9 Rama July 30, 2009 at 1:04 pm

Bottled in New Jersey ! Perhaps they should mention that also on the label. Wonder if it would affect the sales.

10 Careless July 30, 2009 at 1:24 pm

What if you are walking down the street and feel thirsty? Maybe you meant to bring a container of water with you when you left home, but you forgot. Maybe you are out longer than you originally planned, or it is hotter than you expected. Maybe you aren’t carrying a bag.

In those circumstances, picking up a bottle of Tap’d from the nearest bodega seems fairly sensible. It’s not like it is easy to find a public water fountain most places..

Ok, but what percentage of their sales do you think come from such purchases? If it’s not small, they’re probably not going to succeed as a business.

And where’s the hate for bottled pop? Same plastic…

few of us have soda fountains in our kitchens. If I could easily buy Coke Zero in bulk or by pipeline, I would (granted, I’m more willing to buy things like large bottles than average).

11 babar July 30, 2009 at 3:07 pm

there was a story somewhere — i think on this american life — about someone who did research as to which mineral “impurities” made up the best tasting water — and then went about trying to buy these minerals to make the water.

12 babar July 30, 2009 at 3:54 pm

@sbarta – And, I’m just going out on a limb here, but I’m *pretty* sure that tap water hasn’t been distilled…

NYC tap water wasn’t even filtered or purified until (i believe) recently.
it comes from reservoirs in the catskills that are clean.

13 Andrew July 30, 2009 at 4:07 pm

So, where can I buy some of this bottled NYC tap water?

For my photos. Me and the kids drink puddle water.

14 Zvi July 30, 2009 at 5:32 pm

According to an article I read a number of years ago, a number of bottled water companies use NYC muni water w/o attribution. Unfortunately, I cannot cite the source, though I have no trouble believing the claim.

15 mulp August 1, 2009 at 12:57 am

The logic of paying as much for tap water as the British and Canadians pay for petrol, which gets used just once, while water gets reused over and over as a sustainable supply, is mind-boggling.

And economists claim that people are rational decision makers and markets reflect rational prices based on supply and demand to correctly allocate scarce resources.

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