BY LINDSEY MCGINNIS '18
LaCroix (pronounced “La Croy”), a Wisconsin-based brand of flavored sparkling water, has recently achieved a cult-like popularity. The national obsession is most visible on Instagram, where loyal drinkers pose in “La Croixs Over Boys” t-shirts and sit atop thrones of LaCroix boxes. According to the Wall Street Journal, LaCroix water sales more than doubled over the past two years to $225.5 million, making it the fastest growing brand of unsweetened sparkling water in the country.
“My fridge in my room is literally composed of only LaCroix and ice cubes,” said Ahlia Dunn ’20.
How has this 36-year-old seltzer brand and long-time favorite of Midwestern moms suddenly become a status symbol, an accessory flaunted by young urbanites and even a meme?
Maybe it’s something about the can, which features bright swatches of color reminiscent of the Solo Jazz pattern — a turquoise and purple design found on wax covered solo cups from the 90s. According to knowyourmeme.com, the Solo Jazz pattern returned to mainstream pop culture in 2015, around the same time that LaCroix photos flooded Instagram. For a company that owes so much to voluntary advertising (mainly via social media), LaCroix’s aesthetics are certainly important, but they’re nothing new. According to “box vox,” a retail design blog, the packaging you see today hasn’t changed since 1990, when a consulting agency urged LaCroix’s parent company, G. Heileman Brewing Company, to relaunch the beverage in color-smeared cans.
Maybe it’s the simple ingredients. LaCroix seltzer waters are marketed as an all natural, sugar and calorie-free alternative to sodas, particularly diet sodas. The company blog features stories like “This Peach Won’t Leave you Pear shaped!” and “Ring In The New Year Sans Guilt : LaCroix Cocktails,” among articles on dehydration, Coachella survival guides and diet friendly recipes. In this sense, LaCroix seems to be not only filling the growing “soda void,” but also capitalizing on the same wellness trends that make diet sodas so unpopular, especially among millennials.
Maybe it’s just that good. LaCroix comes in 20 flavors — 13 traditional flavors (pure, berry, coconut, cran-raspberry, lemon, lime, orange, lemon-lime, peach-pear, mango, passion fruit, apricot and pamplemousse), six LaCroix Cúrate flavors (pomme bayá, cerise limón, piña fraise, kiwi sandía, melón pomelo and muré pepino) and LaCroix NiCola, a coca-cola “essenced” beverage that debuted last year. Here are six flavors to keep on your radar:
One of the brand’s most popular (and therefore most photographed) flavors is pamplemousse. Although LaCroix’s flavor are subtle, pamplemousse tastes exactly like grapefruit, and its loyal fan base insists it’s the most refreshing of the flavors.
Competing with pamplemousse for #1 is coconut, a controversial flavor. Does it smell like sunscreen, or does sunscreen smell like coconut LaCroix? Either way, the debate rages on with coconut’s unwavering fan base. “It tastes like sunscreen and I respect that,” said Hailey Simmons ’19.
The tried-and-true flavor is a safe bet for any gathering. “[Lime LaCroix is] refreshing but not too overwhelming, so it mixes well with other things,” said Ahlia Dunn ’20.
This slightly sweet LaCroix pairs well with most food, though some say that it’s a little more pear than peach. Caedyn Busche ‘17 enjoys the flavor because “it tastes fancy, but not too fancy.”
Part of the LaCroix Cúrate series, muré pepino comes in a slender, purple and green can. The LaCroix website describes this spa-like flavor as capturing the “sweet & sour blackberry notes and the natural earthiness of crisp cucumber.”
Mango debuted in 2014, and already has its own band of loyalists. However, not everyone was impressed. Mango LaCroix reminded Demetria Osei-Tutu ’17 of “detox water.” She said the drink was “nasty, but cocktail-friendly.”