I’m leaving for Maryland in a few hours to visit my family, bond with the siblings and parental units, and perhaps casually mention my birthday wish list (in case they wanted to get started saving up a few months in advance.) Because I saw the cutest thing online, and it’s the first real luxury item I’ve desired in a long time…
Is this not the cutest thing ever? Okay, the creature on the right is a real penguin. He’s not on my list. The creature on the left is a Penguin Carbonator from Soda Stream. [2018 Update: It looks like the Penguin model has been discontinued and replaced with the Crystal sparkling water maker.] Unfortunately, he might not be on my list anymore either. But before I tell you why he’s off, let me tell you about why he was on in the first place. Besides the fact that he’s so cute.
- The Penguin (or Crystal) carbonates your own tap water so you don’t have to buy soda in disposable bottles.
- The Penguin (or Crystal) comes with two reusable glass carafes with fizz-preserving stoppers, instead of plastic bottles like other carbonators.
- The refillable aluminum CO2 cartridges are returned to the company and exchanged for new ones, so no component of the system is ever thrown away. In fact, all you purchase is the CO2 itself. The cartridge remains the property of Soda Stream and must be returned, empty or not, after five years.
- No electricity, batteries, or other energy source is required to operate this appliance.
So what’s the problem? Well, the first drawback is the price. The Penguin costs $250!!! [2018 Update: The Crystal model is still pricey but well under $250 on Amazon.]
Still, it couldn’t hurt to add it to my wishlist, right? But then I looked more carefully at what comes packaged with the Penguin. In addition to the machine, four cartridges, and two carafes, you get twelve plastic sample bottles of soda flavoring syrup. I wouldn’t use the syrup anyway, plastic bottles or not. And while these are free of high fructose corn syrup, I’d rather flavor my fizzy water with a little lemon or splash of fruit juice.
So I called Soda Stream to find out if I could buy the Penguin without the soda syrup. No go. There was just no way to take it out of the already packaged box before shipping. Okay, what if I mailed the syrup bottles back to Soda Club after I opened the box? Honestly, the rep said, they’d probably throw them away.
So why am I spending an entire post on a product that I’m probably not going to purchase? Because I still think it’s a good idea for anyone who drinks a lot of soda. In fact, I think that the less expensive carbonators with the reusable plastic bottles are a great idea too if they will save hundreds of disposable bottles from being produced.
For me, I guess soda is not a big enough priority to invest in a machine like this if it also comes with a bunch of plastic. I just wanted a penguin on my kitchen counter. So what do you think?