(Photo: LaCroixWater.com)

For reasons that are not entirely understandable, some people out there apparently still don’t own a SodaStream home carbonation machine. This means that they either have to drink their water flat like a barbarian, or they need to stock up on prepackaged sparkling water. Of all the brands of prepackaged sparkling water available out there, there’s one that seems to be ascendant. Odds are any person reading this article in a work cubicle is currently sitting within no less than six burbling, sweating cans of LaCroix.

The reasons for LaCroix’s sudden popularity are both self-evident and complicated. On the one hand, it has zero calories while tasting super delicious, and it comes in 20 flavors. On the other hand, why is it such a big deal now, after more than three decades on the market? According to this very important investigative piece on Vox, the answer starts with America’s growing reluctance to pour cloyingly sweet battery acid into their heads 24/7. As the authors explain, LaCroix was just one of many sparkling waters to benefit from the country’s newfound health-consciousness. What really really tipped it over the net and turned it into a lifestyle brand was the company’s decision to make itself easily available for the country’s most cantankerous subset of misanthropes:

The forces that shape our cultural references, deciding what will be a shorthand for trendiness on blogs and painstakingly documented in the New York Times style section, can seem mysterious. But the answer is stupidly obvious: If you want to be written about, win over a bunch of writers. And starting in 2014, writers in Los Angeles began drinking LaCroix in droves…

National Beverage expanded its West Coast distribution and got onto the websites of office supply stores for easy ordering. That was a decisive moment. From then on, “we ordered LaCroix from OfficeMax and it saved my life,” said [former TV writer’s room assistant] Ryan Rosenberg … LaCroix quickly became the drink of choice for Los Angeles writers. And in March 2015, one of them gave LaCroix its highest-profile endorsement yet. “I was introduced to them at work, the same place where most of us worry about contracting respiratory viruses,” Mary H. K. Choi wrote in the New York Times magazine.

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Crack, fizz, gulp. That’s all it took. The rest is history. Or, really, the rest is a silly T-shirt trend for people with too much money that ultimately speed along the finality of the LaCroix zeitgeist. Which will be fine, because it’s really only once a product becomes super uncool that it becomes extremely widely available.

[via Vox]