ABC News reported Saturday about the latest trend in bottled water.
Americans spent more than $10 billion on bottled water last year. Now, a new generation of luxury bottled water, with upscale packaging and price tags to match, is flooding the marketplace.
Bling H2O is one of the new high-end breeds. Its bottle, covered in Swarovski crystals, contains spring water from Tennessee.
"People are paying $40, $55, $60, $75 a bottle for the water, depending on where you purchase it in the hospitality industry," said Kevin Boyd, Bling H2O's creator. "It's definitely worth it. It's premium water, in premium packaging, that merits a premium price tag."
At work I keep a water bottle on my desk. It started out as Wal-Mart's flavored bubble-water (strawberry flavor), which I drank, and I use it for the bottle now. My work supplies piped-in "bottled" or filtered water, but I fill up my water bottle from the tap.
New co-workers are horrified at the sight, and they kindly point out that I could get my water from over there at the "good" water dispenser, as though I missed that bit of insight in the four years I've worked here. I give them my standard reply, "If I start to like bottled water, then I'll have to start paying for my water."
But $75 for a rhinestone-studded bottle of water (excuse me, Swarovski crystal-studded bottle)? Not on your life.
Besides, bottled water just tastes wrong, as though there's something missing. It's like they stripped out all the minerals that are good for your body and left you with nothing but distilled water. No thanks.
Now, the tap water in Southern California is nothing to write home about. We have hard water, so there's an abundance of minerals, but on the whole it tastes fine to me. Missoula, Montana, where I went to high school and a year of college, has excellent tap water. It comes out of the faucet ice-cold, even in the summer.
When we were in Poland this past September, our translator/guide raved about the glories of his hometown's tap water, and he was right. Milanówek (pronounced: meel-ah-NOO-veck) had the finest water of all the places we went. I might even be tempted to buy bottles of it if they packaged it and sold it here.
But not for $75, or even $40.
ABC News checked to see if people can really tell the difference.
"Good Morning America Weekend" asked a group of self-proclaimed water connoisseurs to do a blind taste test.
The 16 tasters were given glasses of three different waters: a glacier water from Canada priced at $28.50 for under a liter, Poland Spring, which retails for about $1, and plain tap water.
They sipped, savored, and guzzled, and the majority — 13 out of 16 tasters — picked the high-priced glacier water as their favorite.
To see if the average Joe could tell the difference, "GMA Weekend" asked its crew to take the same blind taste test. Seven out of 10 tasters couldn't pin point the luxury water.
Dr. Mel Suffet of the UCLA School of Public Health, who has studied bottled water, said high-end waters are no better for consumers than cheaper brands, or even water from the tap.
He's the man. I am vindicated. Think of all the money won't have to spend...