Kids Eat The Darnedest Things: SodaStream Homemade Soda

We hear lots of things in this office, such as last week's notice of a "New and Fun Drink Idea:" the SodaStream home soda maker.

Well, while the idea of making soda at home was new to me, it's not exactly a new idea to the world, sez Wikipedia (sorry--breaking our rules for the sake of a quote): the forerunner of the modern SodaStream, the "Apparatus for aerating liquids" (doesn't quite roll off the tongue like "SodaStream," does it?), was created in 1903 in London. The product was popular in the U.K. in the 1970s and '80s.

Sadly, Soda-Club (which now owns the SodaStream name) dropped the "Get busy with the fizzy" slogan. Anyway, calling it "new" might be a stretch. But as for it being a fun idea? That I can't argue with.

The Kids Eat crew, a couple of their friends and a few parents gathered recently for an impromptu soda party. After the jump, our thoughts on the root beer, lemon-lime and ginger ale--as well as the results of an ill-fated experiment in carbonating orange juice.

The sample machine that Soda-Club sent came with a single 60-liter carbon dioxide canister, or "carbonator." Assembly was pretty simple, required no tools and only took a minute or two. Along with the carbonation machine, I received bottles of root beer, ginger ale, orange and lemon-lime syrups plus a few diet flavors that we'll probably never use.

Oddly, they sent diet cola but not regular cola.

A bonus for HFCS-averse parents is that most of the syrups use dextrose as the sweetener, and those with high-fructose corn syrup are plainly labeled.

We started out with good old-fashioned root beer. It's a simple process. You screw a bottle of cold water into the machine, push a button on top several times until it makes a flatulent buzzing sound three times--fun for kids of all ages--unscrew the bottle, pour in a cap of syrup and turn it back and forth gently to mix it.

Root Beer
Iris (11): I like it a lot better than regular root beer. It tastes fresher and more fizzy.
Eva (10): It's more fizzy, but with bigger bubbles. It's fresher and really good. Way better than regular soda!
Jiri (7): It tastes like real root beer. It's good!
Lyle (7): [Belches loudly] That's what I think. Tastes good.

Iris: It's much better than Sprite.
Lyle: [Burps]
Jiri: When it bubbles up, it kind of tastes like Izze.
Eva: Mmm, it's good!

Ginger ale was as much of a hit as the other drinks. Perhaps it was psychological, but everyone agreed that the drinks tasted "fresher."

Next, we attempted to make our own version of Izze by carbonating orange juice. This proved to be a messy mistake. A volcano of OJ immediately spewed out the top of the bottle after the first injection of gas, spilling across the table. Nearly half of the juice was lost. But at least the remainder, now mildly fizzy, was alright.

After about a week of having the machine, I can say that making sodas is still a lot more fun than just opening up a bottle or can. But as a result of the labor-intensive process, we're drinking much less soda than we would have with a 12-pack of cans sitting at the ready in the fridge. Rather than just being a customary lunchtime drink, they are more like a special treat.

As for the claims that the system is a money-saver and green, I can't say. The system itself is $99.99, refill gas bottles start at $25.99, and the soda syrup bottles are $4.99 each--and are only available by mail order. I may not be so high on the system after shelling out for refills. But for now, at least, we're drinking less soda and enjoying it more.

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