Making Water Palette-Able

Last night I saw something on television that made my jaw just about drop into my lap. And no, it wasn’t the season premiere of Dancing with the Stars. Although, to confess, I did catch a glimpse of 49-year-old Ralph Macchio in action while flipping channels—he’s the original Karate Kid—and can report he looks pretty damn good for this age. But I digress. The jaw-jerk reaction was instigated by this commercial, which advertises a new product so ridiculous and unnecessary, that it’s bound to be a best seller: water enhancer.

Now, I’m the first to admit I’m a bit of a water snob. My sensitive taste buds have gotten soft on the crisp-tasting water we have here in the San Francisco Bay Area. When visiting my in-laws in NJ where I grew up, it takes a strong resolve (or severe dehydration) to drink what comes out of their tap. The pungent odor of chlorine makes your eyes burn. Now there’s some water that needs enhancing.  And trust me, I’ve tried. Honey, lemons, mint leaves—I’ve used them all with varying degrees of success. But never would I consider adding artificially sweetened and flavored food coloring to the water to make it more palatable.

The Mio Water Enhancer, distributed by Kraft Foods, comes in six color/flavor combinations including (orange) Peach Mango and (purple) Berry Pomegranate. And just so we’re clear, there’s nothing natural about the Mio ingredients. The product palette comes courtesy of synthetic food dyes linked to hypersensitivity, hyperactivity, and increased risk of certain tumors according to the Rainbow of Risks report released by Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) in June 2010.

Here’s an idea: Rather than trying to sell us on the idea that drinking purple water will make our lives better, why doesn’t Kraft Foods use some of its $50 billion in annual revenue to enhance the drinking water supply naturally, by helping us get rid of the contaminants that yuck it up in the first place?

In the meantime, I think I’ll stick with my favorite water enhancer: coffee.