Snaxshot #20: Water, Water, Everywhere

and many a brand to spare 💧

A newsletter on upcoming food and beverage trends that offers a curation of brands and aesthetics written by Andrea Hernández.

🤗 You can support Snaxshot monthly now!🤗

🔮 Peek into the future:

  • Why are we so damn thirsty?!

  • The cult around hydration

  • Liquid Death’s shitposting to success

  • The beautiful story behind Ugly

  • Curation of brands + Spoonful of News

    Don’t be shy, the water’s warm, don’t forget to hit the subscribe button below.

Water We Even Doing? 🎤

A thousand girls that look like me
Staring out at the open sea
Repeat the words until they're true
Cover my eyes electric blue
—Electric Blue, Arcade Fire

Welcome back, thanks for being here, I’m your beloved quasi, non-controversial host, and in today’s expose: “Millennials: The Thirst Has Actually Always Been Real” —whether it’s a love for carbonation, seeking healthier alternatives, restoration or simply feeling that we are not adequately hydrated, we can’t get enough of water, you heard it here first, our generation is a bunch of H2h0s. Water is literally the lubricant of life, liquid nourishment that somehow we constantly deprive ourselves of, or at least we think we do.

Even though our generation finds itself constantly bullied by Twitter accounts whose sole purpose is to remind us, in a seemingly begrudging manner, that we should perhaps have a glass of water or two, we are actually consuming a lot more water than we think, in fact, way before we turned water into the latest external signaler, there were indicators that water consumption would actually surpass soda consumption, with Millennials driving this shift. Ironic, considering we were literally the generation that grew up drinking the worst kind of sugary beverages, from trading Capri Suns and Hi-C Ecto Coolers to trying to curve our addictions later on with Diet Cokes and sugar-free Red Bulls.

Now I can't get my head around it
I thought I found it
But I found out I don't know shit
—Electric Blue, Arcade Fire

In Aqua Veritas, A Tale of Two Cults 👁️

Water has always had cult following around it, and who could blame us considering just how quintessential it is to our literal existence, we built entire civilizations next to it, similar to the Sun, but maybe not quite as popular, or maybe, just a bit more underground. The cult of water has a lot of sects, and sub-sects, stemming from a post-industrialization era and of course, capitalism. From the airs of pompousness of French eaus, to the steamy allure of the Italian acquas, to the inviting frescas of Latin America, and so forth.

We all know of the sect of Topo Chico, primordially found in northern Mexico and Texas, the brand has been around for literally an entire century and has mythological type origins, according to their brand story, stemming back to the 1400s and the discovery of Topo Chico cerro, way before it became the latest signaler of in the know. By the 2010s, the brand had become a bartender favorite, in line with Millennials coming of age and seeking healthier alternatives, the brand saw such an explosion that Coca Cola acquired them by 2017, to the dismay of many, even spurring controversy amongst TC purists, after their most recent announcement of Topo Chico hard seltzer.

Then there is the American sect LaCroix, born back in peak Yuppie era, in La Crosse, Wisconsin. The brand dubbed itself the “anti-Perrier” as a pushback to pretentiousness of French eaus, and purposely pronounces it La-Croy (rhymes with enjoy) and not how you would typically enounce it in French, their chaotic branding that seems like a temp produced the design using a combination of Word Art and Paint was also done on purpose pushing back against the concept of “pleasing aesthetics” that were popular amongst sparkling waters.

The pushback gave rise to its popularity and quickly was adopted by today’s modern Yuppie, Milllennials, but as it is with those who rise out of dethroning their former defacto leaders, our generation decided to stir the waters, and create a sparkling revolution of our own. By 2019, LaCroix sales were in free fall as competition grew, not only amongst incumbent brands, but BigBeverage threw their hats in the ringer as well, what had once given LaCroix its popularity, “counter aesthetics,” had soon become its own demise at a time where Millennials began to see beverages as signalers and demanded more innovation, AND functionality alongside pretty packaging.

Listen as the crowd would sing
"Now the old king is dead! Long live the king!"
And that was when I ruled the world
—Viva La Vida, Coldplay

Water Under The Bridge 🌉

Rough seas make stronger… brands.

—By 2016, Americans were drinking more water than soda, for the first time, in decades.

—Retail sales of seltzer in the United States more than doubled from 2013 to 2018, Mintel estimated.

—Global sparkling water market valued at $30 Billion in 2020; expected CAGR of 13% from 2021 to 2028.

—The sparkling water industry is one of the fastest-growing non-alcoholic beverage categories, with a sales increase of 11% between 2013 and 2018.

—In 2017, Coca Cola bought Topo Chico for $220 Million, in 2020 announced it was entering hard seltzer market.

—In 2018, Pepsi followed through releasing Bubly, saw sales surge 96%, in span of a a year.

—Smart Water released a functional water, as demand for functional beverages amongst millenials soars, Evian followed suit.

—Nestle offloaded its North American water division, soon bought Essentia, a premium functional water brand.

Global functional water market expected to grow to $18 Billion by 2025, CAGR of 7% during the forecast period.

—In the US, retail sales of functional beverages is around $18 Billion, and functional water is 17% of that share.

This is a call to arms to live and love and sleep together
We could flood the streets with love or light or heat,whatever
The youth are starting to change
Are you starting to change, are you?
Together, together, together, together
—Youth, MGMT

Steam Punk Drink ♨️

From the counter sects of LaCroix, and the purist Topo Chico rises a new kind of sect, one that resonated more with Millennials, who grew up and quickly learned that in modern internet era, shitposting could actually capitulate you into stardom, just ask Fuck Jerry, Fat Jewish or the leader of the nuvo sect, Liquid Death, here to murder your thirst, at a premium cost. Having recently raised $23 Million, nothing says fuck you, like disproving the non believers and those who thought this literally was just a joke, while cashing in big time and expanding the cult of hardcore water.

A venture from former Netflix creative director, Mike Cessario, similar to LaCroix’s origin story as in offering a counter, the idea was to design a product that would resonate with “extreme” straight-edged punk crowds that eschew alcohol and drugs, because toxic masculinity needed something else to hold on to, at a time where Millennials were desperately seeking better drinking alternatives that wouldn’t necessarily infantilize us, like say, a virgin piña colada (re:rise of the sober curious)

Liquid Death’s most recent funding includes an unnamed family office; Convivialité Ventures, which is Pernod Ricard Group’s venture arm; the musician known as Fat Mike; and earlier backer Velvet Sea Ventures. Their latest marketing push is aimed towards attracting GenZ customers, with a sustainability message, but we will see how this fairs, as this new generation can parse through BS better than any predecessor.

New Drink on The Block 🏙️

A literal ocean away, in the UK, the sect of Ugly came about, with an approach that appealed to the masses, their leaders Hugh Thomas and Joe Benn at the helm, opting for a balanced approach instead —making a healthier alternative to soda, away from the arrogance of everyone else. Ugly’s revolutionary message, the truth can be ugly, but it will set you free, in their case, free of sugars and any other unfortunate additives that can be found in sodas and other beverages. Transparency is what they preach, both metaphorically but also a physical manifestation of it, considering we are talking about water.

The sect of Ugly expands beyond international borders, having recently brought their revolution to the United States, a country equally plagued by the horrors of sugar. Their strategy, less about being seen as elite, foreign beverage, (considering how the French and Italian beverages are viewed as) has been to build out the brand from middle America out, focusing on a more mainstream tactic, and less on being seeing as a premium alternative, or signaler of sorts. They want to make healthier alternatives accessible, both in how they position the product, as well as in their branding, having gone through a major rebrand, they opted for a graffiti-like look, a nod to Banksy-esque statement of protest and solidarity with the masses.

And that is the beauty of Ugly, a millennial led brand that is being by and for the people, and a message that can transcend cultures and borders, that healthy shouldn’t equate pomposity, snobbery, arrogance, or that it should be tasteless and boring —instead that it can be inviting, fun and equally colorful. Their success is as equally effervescent as their drink, having risen to the top and continue to expand their sect, they even include healthy energy alternatives, as well as having recently raised new funding from BigBeverage, as well as expanded their retail distribution, not to mention have grown their DTC 500% YOY, the brand remains stronger than ever in a highly competitive market, there’s nothing Ugly about that.

War of the Waters 💦

Badass: Hailing from the UK, 100% alkaline water that is seeking to be a healthier alternatives to energy drinks.

GenZ: This brand is not only bringing GeoCities aesthetics back but also have a genius branding message that is clearly appealing to its intended audience “for those who did not grow up with fliphones” not only do they have sustainable packaging but the way they are countering buzzword play usually found in Millenial branding, an opting for just saying they are “flavorless transparent liquid” —personally, I am obsessed.

Drama: Hailing from Mexico, selected for their beautiful aesthetics and the nod to making water as equally dramatic as it’s European counterparts, just a bit more literal.

United Sodas: Come on, we all know they just went for the United Colors of Benetton playbook and it’s clearly working, these are absolutely stunning and makes me obssess about collecting all the colors.

Sanzo: Beautiful cans that hold an array of tasty Asian flavors, the brand is unapologetically themselves. They’ve got an incredible success story, most recently partnered with Disney, and expanding their retail distribution across the US.

Richard’s Rainwater: Bottled rainwater hailing from Austin, Texas.

Pricklee: Last year I told you cactus water would soon become the new “coconut water” not only did this brand finally launch but Vanessa Hudgens has also gotten into the trend.

Juno: Bottled bamboo water.

SAP SUCKER: Canned tree water, tapped in Canada so you know those trees are LEGIT!

Hydrant: They are “rapid hydration” mixes to enhance your water, they just raised $8.5 Million and include famous athletes as investors, heard Gatorade is somewhat shooketh.

psychedelic water: Please someone try this water that was launched by Instagram influencer and somehow music producer —murda beatz. No, it’s not psychedelic water and it’s actually somehow a herbal supplement (it has kava in it) anywho, if anything you’ll have a holographic can to show off at least.

Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble 🛑

—Highly competitive market in saturated shelf space

—Packaging matters, not only has there been a can shortage, but also BigBeverage has been called out as biggest plastic polluters, so alternative packaging is almost a must at this point

Smooth Sailing, Calmer Waters Ahead ⛵

—Drink mixes as complementers

—Alka-Seltzeration of water seen as a sustainable play, check out Vienna based company, waterdrop, after their success in Europe with their table “water” just recently announced entry into US

—Water from alternative sources —cactus, bamboo, etc.

May Snax-o-Scopes 🔮

Aries: You’re the kind of person who needs spice in their life, a literal flame that stems from inside, but you also need to learn to chill the fuck out —try Hot Sloth’s CBD hot sauce this month. Ever the trend-setter at times it’s best to wait and see if it’s worth actually trying that $25 chaggacinno, your taste buds AND wallet will thank you.

Taurus: Snacks are literally your personality trait and you’re the one to always have the best-stocked pantries and fridges but you’re very stubbornly stuck with the same usual brands, this month urges you to venture beyond the corral, check out our extensive curation of new pantry brands to try out.

Gemini: At first saffron water may have seemed like a good idea but now you’re thinking you might go for the sea moss shot instead, it’s ok to embrace your duality, and can’t wait for the post-consumption TED Talk you’ll grace us with on the benefits of both.

Cancer: This month’s cry sessions pair well with adaptogenic bonbons chased by a cold glass of Táche and somehow just as well with your salty tears —cheer up though, hosting season is upon us so you’ll be able to suppress your feelings by baking sourdough for friends instead.

Leo: When you’re not prying for undivided attention you actually make good snack decisions like opting for a low abv aperitif like Ghia paired with an adult Lunchable reconsider the drama and focus on what’s important, what’s for dinner?

Virgo: The stars encourage you to stop pacing back and forth and just commit to a first pick, go with your initial gut and try that expensive elixir tonic with cute packaging, if all else fails, it’ll make great decor in your immaculate kitchen shelfies.

Libra: As much as you love aesthetically pleasing products your wallet urges you to reconsider this month, if all else fails though, try Brightland’s olive oil and also splurge with their Digestif candle, stimulate all the senses bb, go big or go home.

Scorpio: Unfortunately, you’re as equally misunderstood as MayoChup but this month sees improvement in your pantry section, try Dark Horse Organic’s fermented ketchup

Saggitarius: Forever the optimist, your wallet a little less optimistic giving this months finances, the stars suggest it’s the perfect time to unsubscribe from that foreign snack exchange.

Capricorn: You the GOAT, and the least impulsive buyer at the produce stand and very much into spending for the sake of quality, this week consider giving pizza and caviar a try, and pair it with some HAUS.

Aquarius: You’re into trying new things as much as diving into the next conspiracy theory, but when you’re not busy disassociating at the produce section you have more time to spend perusing through the beverage aisle, this month is about chill so maybe order some Recess.

Pisces: You dreamer fish, at times it’s hard to keep yourself grounded in reality, but you can’t really help being anything but your Neptunian self, while you’re out there wandering the ethereal space, maybe try some Ruby to keep you hydrated in your outer worldly travels.

Spoonful of News 🥄

  • Rú is a new line of sparkling teas, from Wharton alumni.

  • PopUp Grocer NOW OPEN in Chicago, featuring over 400+ brands!

  • The return of the snack has left SnackDaddy with deeper pockets, and it sees no end in sight.

  • Beyond Meat is releasing its 3.0 version and NUGGS is officially available in Walmart and Costco.

See you again next week, in a different future, same place.

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