Boston loves Polar. Philly loves LaCroix. In general, Americans love seltzer now.
Between 2004 and 2014, inflation-adjusted U.S. seltzer sales increased 19 percent, according to industry analyst group Euromonitor (green represents forecasted data).
Euromonitor analyst Eric Penicka said the growth comes as interest in sugary drinks plummets.
“While carbonated soft drinks volume sales decline year after year, other soft drink categories are benefiting, primarily bottled waters (notably sparkling and flavoured, but still water too) and seltzers," he said. "Both sparkling waters and seltzers are naturally healthy, unsweetened, and can be flavoured by the consumers themselves."
But seltzers have more carbonation, which can make up for the absence of fizzy intensity lapsed soda drinkers miss, he said.
However, the two descriptions are basically used interchangeably in the industry.
So, which seltzers are drinkers gravitating to, and where? First, there's Polar Seltzer, which Google Trends shows has been on a steady upward clip since 2011.
Not surprisingly, it is biggest in Boston, not far from where it is manufactured.
Then there's LaCroix. It has seen an explosion of interest over the past few years that has since plateaued but remains healthy:
Shares in its parent company, National Beverage Corp., have been killing it in the past five years, besting returns on the S&P 500 by nearly 10 percentage points:
Even though they're based in Florida, and the company was founded in Wisconsin, Philadelphians seem to be most enamored with them.
Oh yeah, and guess which demographic they're going after (this is the first thing you see on their website):
Finally there's Canada Dry, Canfield's, and Schweppes, all of which are owned by Dr. Pepper Snapple. Their stock has had even more impressive performance than National Beverage Corp.:
DPS CEO Larry Young talked up these brands' successes compared with their sugary counterparts on the company's most recent earnings call:
…A 7% increase in Canada Dry was more than offset by mid-single-digit declines in 7UP, Sunkist and A&W. Schweppes increased 8 percent on growth of sparkling waters and ginger ale, and Squirt increased 6 percent.
(YES, THEY STILL MAKE SQUIRT.)
We recommend perusing the more than 18,000 posts on Instagram tagged with seltzer to get a sense of the wave. Our favorite was this one from a mom showing her teen's used bottles of a third popular brand, Vintage, which has had a stellar 2015.
Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.