The Spinoff reviews New Zealand #49: LaCroix, the internet’s favourite drink

We review the entire country and culture of New Zealand, one thing at a time. Today, Henry Oliver drinks a Crate Day’s worth of LaCroix, millennials’ favourite sparkling water, which has just arrived in New Zealand.

Napkins are dead: to begin with.

And crowdfunding is dead. McWraps are dead. Golf, holidays, the wine cork, they are all dead, and call centres are dead. The EU and the American Dream are both dead. Banks are dead. Focus groups are dead. The suit, fashion, and class are all dead. Retail, dead. Canadian tourism is dead. Democracy and movies are dead.

All killed, we’re told, by millennials’ sexless hedonism and relentless entitlement.

And you know what else millennials are apparently killing? Soda. Fizzy drink. Pop. Coke. Pepsi. Fanta even.

Why? Because sugar. Sugar is now the worst thing in the world. And even though, for decades, the sugar industry, Big Sugar, has been able to deflect any attention it didn’t want onto our old enemy fat (largely through smear campaigns and millions of dollars of conflicted-of-interest science).

But young people know as much as anyone how important hydration is and how terribly boring and off-personal-brand it is to drink the water that comes out of the tap, so they – or at least those in America – have started drinking LaCroix, an ever-so-lightly flavoured yet sugar-, calorie- and sodium-free sparkling water.

In the last two years, LaCroix, which was launched in the early ’90s and marketed at health-conscious midwestern housewives, has become the internet’s favourite drink. Its meme-ready, Solo Jazz-esque branding is all over Instagram. New flavours are tweeted about incessantly. YouTube is awash with videos arguing about how to pronounce the name (it’s ‘la-CROY’, rhyming with ‘enjoy’, not ‘la-qwah’, as in “LaCroix, sweetie”). There are more rankings of LaCroix flavours than my four-year-old can count. Unfunny late-night host Jimmy Fallon loves it. Habitual apologist Lena Dunham loves it (or maybe just Hannah Horvath does). And now, my fellow New Zealand-bound consumer, you can love it too.

Extra-keen local internetters have been buying cases off Fishpond for the last few months but a week or so ago, word spread that Countdown is selling a small selection of LaCroix’s 22 flavours by the case. So, in the interests of public service journalism, I bought a case of each of the flavours on offer (except Pure – we all know what “pure” sparkling water tastes like), lugging them up the many stairs to Spinoff HQ. And now, after much tasting, drinking, and mocking laughs from my colleagues every time I cracked one open, I report my findings from best to worst.

Lime

Lime is the most accessible flavour – the fruit we’re most used to just have a hint of, given their exorbitant price. And that’s all you get here. Lime LaCroix makes those yuck flavoured H2Go waters taste like flavour bombs. It’s refreshing with a noticeable-enough taste to make you feel like you’re modestly treating yourself but not so flavourful that you tire of it easily. I drunk three in an afternoon with ease. It was also the first flavour to disappear from the office fridge, so the wisdom of the crowd and all that…

Coconut

Coconut is the most flavoured of these not-very-flavoured drinks. Its flavour is somewhere in between sunscreen and those fancy coconut waters that tanned young people used to buy for $6. Which is to say, it’s pleasant but you don’t want to down multiple cans in a row. Perhaps that’s why it was the last to disappear from the fridge (though coconut tends to be divisive in any non-coconut form, see also: chocolate bars, biscuits, fancy jelly beans). Also, Coconut has the best can – the use of gold and copper is classy as fuck.

Peach-Pear

Peach-Pear – though definitely more peach than pear – is, with Berry, more artificial tasting than Lime or Coconut, though LaCroix insists that its flavours (or “essences”) are all natural despite the food regulations about what can be included in under the label “natural flavours” being pretty fucking loose. This kinda tastes like someone’s dropped some bubblegum into a bottle of San Pellegrino.

Berry

Berry, while still definitely drinkable, is the loser here. At first blush, it was my second favourite, but as I made my way through about half a case of each flavour over two days, Berry continued to slip down the list. It is just too sweet to be lightly flavoured. It’s a breath of berry. A sniff of berry. Someone remarked that it tastes like when someone refills a bottle of raspberry Raro without washing it out or adding more Raro. Lime gets away with its wateriness (it is after all water) through its citric acidity, but Berry LaCroix misses the tartness that could have made Berry the standout flavour. Maybe Pamplemousse will be better

Verdict: LaCroix is fine. I didn’t love any of the flavours but I happily drunk a lot of it. Too much, according to some. But I probably wouldn’t spend more money on it though. Oh, and cool cans.

Good or Bad: Good. Well, good enough

– Henry Oliver


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