One of the few commercials that stuck with me after the Super Bowl was this one by SodaStream, if only because it tweaked my WTF meter:
Apparently they had an even more in-your-face ad prepared that CBS did not allow them to run (you might need to click through to see it):
I have to give them credit for throwing down that gauntlet hard. But, as an engineer, an interesting concept and ballsy advertising scheme will only get you so far with me; does it actually make sense to go this route? Well, let us take a look at how much it all costs.
Sodastream Fountain Jet Soda Maker Starter Kit – $79.99, includes one 60L Carbonator and 6 flavor packs (72L)
So, with all of those various prices for all of the various equipment necessary to run this little doohicky logged, what do 2L sodas actually cost me? If I am lucky, my local Kroger runs name-brand Mountain Dew for $0.89 a 2L, and if I am not lucky, their generic brand Mountain-Dew-knock-off is always that price (I do so love not living in Kalifornistan any more), so we will use that as our baseline for cost comparisons.
One carbonator will make 66 (we are fudging a little) 2L bottles worth of soda, which, in turn, will require 11 flavor packets, with the total cost being $239.37 for the Amazon route, $104.88 for the local store / SodaStream online store route. 66 2L bottles of name-brand, on-sale Mountain Dew will cost me $58.74.
Whoops. And that does not even count the initial cost of the Fountain device. That said, a standard bottle of 2L soda would only have to cost you $1.60 (not hard in Kalifornistan with its inflated prices and asinine CRV) for you to come out (slightly) ahead.
So how about something different? Monster energy drinks run about $2 for 16 ounce cans, regular price. There are about 68 ounces in a 2L bottle, so 4.25 cans, which means a 2L bottle of Monster would cost about $8.50. Wow. The Red Bull-equivalent flavor pack for SodaStream costs $6.99 for 12 liters, so running the numbers using SodaStream’s site’s prices gives us $126.88 for 66 2L bottles, or $0.45 a 16 ounce can. Well that is a hell of a difference. Unfortunately, I do not drink that much Monster.
Then there is the craziness that is cane sugar soda – around $2 gets you a 12 ounce bottle, so $11.33 for a 2L. Cane sugar cola for the SodaStream runs $9.99 for 6L (an important distinction), so 66 2L bottles will cost $269.77, or $0.72 a 12-ounce bottle. Why, that is almost rational. Not really.
The upshot of all this is that unless you live somewhere where 2L sodas are obscenely expensive, or you are a health nut who only drinks "natural" sodas, or you consume way too many energy drinks than are good for you, or you are way too hung up on the whole "green" thing and want to seriously diminish your empty bottle output, SodaStreams just do not make financial sense. Which is kind of a shame – the concept of building your own soda flavor profile does have a certain degree of appeal. Obviously your prices can improve if you can figure out how to hook up a restaurant CO2 bottle to the device (just remember you are dealing with pressurized gases which can asphyxiate you), and if you take advantage of the CO2 cartridge exchange service (not sure how much that saves you), but just the flavor packets alone almost cost as much as the 2L sodas would, for me (I understand the flavor packets can likewise be replaced with DIY options, but then the math gets really fuzzy).
See? We do not do just firearms here…
(Note: I do not own a SodaStream gadget nor did the company contact me in any way to write the article. I was simply going to do the math regardless and thought I would share.)