A Comprehensive Analysis of Whole Foods’ Water Selection

Written by Timothy Lewis (@MrTeeLew) — 07/10/2019

The selection

There are many brands of water. If you are among those who claim “all water tastes the same”, I recommend you take your uncultured swine palate elsewhere. This list is not for you. The likes of Dasani, Deer Park, or other vending machine brands are not to be mentioned. No, this list is for the bougie and the elite; a comprehensive breakdown of Whole Foods’ selection.

When discerning one water from the next, we must look deeper than simple notions of “flavor”, a metric that is entirely the byproduct of overstimulated sensibilities. Rather, we must seek to understand the underlying experience the water chooses for us. In this ranking, I will define the relationship of each sampling as it pertains to mind, body, spirit, and planet. To encompass this lofty task, the following criteria have been created: bottle configuration, refreshingness, sustainability, quaflé, and price.

Bottle configuration:

How does the bottle feel in my hand? What feelings does the shape evoke? How convenient is it for day to day use?

This rating will be given according to the spirit dog that best represents the bottle.

Refreshingness:

Which water provides the most instant gratification?

This rating will utilize a traditional five-point scale.

Sustainability:

We have like a gazillion pieces of plastic in the ocean. How does this bottle address our pollution problem?

Due to their combination of utility and destructive tendencies, I have assigned a Marvel comic character to represent each bottle. Vital information.

Quaflé (Qwaf-lay):

This is a word I made up specifically to encompass the relationship with the experience of the water.

This rating will be expressed in haiku form.

Price:

Self Explanatory.

This rating will be demonstrated in .gif form.


flow

Bottle configuration:

I’m not sure how to define the shape of this particular bottle. It’s square, but with extra edges. Like, a long octagon? The exterior is glossy with a waxy texture that grips the hand in a satisfying way. The bottle’s design is busy, with text so scrambled and awkwardly spaced that it looks like pop-ups on an infected computer. On a high note, the box design is largely biodegradable and doesn’t crinkle when given it the ole’ chronic anxiety squeezes.

A well-intentioned design that won’t be cherished for being sleek or sexy. Spirit dog: Boxer.

Refreshingness:

It’s smooth water but lacks zest.

3/5.

Sustainability:

Of all the bottles reviewed, flow is the brand focused most on sustainable design. The cap, which feels like plastic, is actually plant-based. While that’s pretty neat, the logic behind sustainability is a bit confusing, stating that it’s +68% renewable materials but 100% recyclable. Because of the unwavering commitment to maximizing resources despite questionable reasoning, the choice for the most fitting comic character is inevitable: Thanos.

Quaflé (Qwaf-lay):

Nature forever.

Breathing is real cool and nice.

Grass, sky, air — hell yeah.

Price:


FIJI

Bottle Configuration:

Designed similar to flow, FIJI is some other type of shape. Unlike flow, FIJI does not cram text into every unoccupied corner like some weird word hoarder. This design is iconic, a dope flower on the front, gold outlining the bold branding, and a small blurb on the back featuring the phrase “Earth’s FINEST WATER”. And yes, that shit is in all-caps, it’s cocky as hell and I love it. Some real legacy type shit. FIJI been running this water game for a long time, challengers beware.

Spirit dog: German Shepherd.

Refreshingness:

Damn its good. Room temperature or cold, FIJI hits you with that “ahhh”.

5/5.

Sustainability:

FIJI said fuck the planet, we 1,600 miles away from the nearest continent. Long perceived as the water of the elitist, it will one day flow from the taps of the rich as they look down upon us from their satellite space station, sipping carelessly as the common man fights a six-legged coyote for the last rabbit bone. FIJI seduces us with its class and prestige, only to leave us in the shambles of its wreckage. Classic Superman.

Quaflé (Qwaf-lay):

Run the game all day

Hit em with that “ooh ah” fresh

Earth’s finest water

Price:


Fox Ledge

Bottle Configuration:

Casual, boring — Spirit Dog: Labrador Retriever

Fox Ledge isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel. They’ve got a conventionally shaped bottle similar to what you may get from Dasani. It’s bottled in PA, so this offering may be exclusive to PA Whole Foods. The branding features a cheeky fox, with eyes that hold a secret. I generally like foxes but I don’t trust this one. A quote running along the top of the logo says “run with the fox” and that makes me feel like it slipped something in my drink. Wish me luck.

Refreshingness:

Eh, it’s ok. You’d expect something locally sourced to have a freshness but I find the opposite to be true. Despite just opening the water, it’s indistinguishable from the half drank bottle you may find under your bed. It will scratch the itch but isn’t a notable upgrade over brands undeserving of this list.

2/5.

Sustainability:

This plastic is THICC. Like, they designed this thing to never disintegrate. This is the type of bottle kids make gravity bongs out of. There’s really no regard for the environment here. I had to squint and search for the practically camouflaged “please recycle” indicator. The obtuse rigidity along with its place as a fringe offering reminds me of Drax, the Destroyer.

Quaflé (Qwaf-lay):

Sneaky trickster fox

Do not trust the darting eyes

Just ninety-nine cents

Price:


365 Electrolyte Water

Bottle configuration:

The highlight of this bottle is in its understated design. Water is supposed to be simple and this bottle exemplifies the notion. In fact, the design is so uncreative, so uninspired, it’s the automaton of water bottles, emotionless, totally devoid of all meaning or consideration. Its nondescript appearance brings a similarly mundane dog.

Spirit Dog: Chinook.

Refreshingness:

To my surprise, this water tacitly massages the esophagus. I attribute the unexpected refreshingness to the supplementary electrolytes.

4/5.

Sustainability:

While Whole Foods is by and large littered with showerless tree huggers, this particular product stands out for its affordability as opposed to sustainability. No frills for excitement, this is a “tag along” water purchased as an afterthought because it will tie up the loose ends of hydration. There’s something to be said about its focus on flavor and simplicity as opposed to gaudiness or forward-focus.

Hawkeye is an appropriate comic character representation. His tools are unheralded but provide a sneaky punch, although his productivity is limited to the arrows in his arsenal.

Quaflé (Qwaf-lay):

Surprised moonlight shines

Electrolytes to support

Don’t drink soda you bitch

Price:


essentia

Bottle Configuration:

Intense and insecure — Spirit dog: Jack Russell Terrier.

Right off the bat, essentia pissed me off. It calls itself “overachieving H2O” like it came from a bad neighborhood or something. Bro, you’re in Whole Foods, get over yourself. The labeling is all black, white, and red, somewhat foreboding. It’s bragging comes off as overstated when compared to the more refined display of a bottle like FIJI’s. It’s the difference between somebody speaking to you and somebody talking at you. Overall, I feel like I’m drinking a science project and that’s not what I look for in my water.

Refreshingness:

While this brand manages to avoid a strong metallic tinge I’ve noticed in other ionized water, it doesn’t have the smoothness associated with waters that have natural mineral contents. It’s flat texture-wise, but perhaps due to the hyper ionization and added electrolytes, it really lights the body up after a couple of sips.

4/5

Sustainability:

As has repeatedly been the case with plastic-based bottles so far, the primary concern is not sustainability. The plastic is dense and stubborn, with smaller bottles holding 20 fl oz compared to similarly sized competitors containing 16.9. While it’s heavily plastic design leaves something to be desired, essentia goes a step further than some of its competitors by eliminating BPA, fluoride, and chlorine from their offering. Over the past year, I’ve been seeing essentia everywhere. It’s hyper-potent as if it’s trying to prove a point through its 9.5 PH. Marvel comic character: Captain Marvel

Quaflé (Qwaf-lay):

Gimmicks may fool you

Stop yelling about ions

News flash: Chill your grill

Price:


Penta

Bottle configuration:

From what was available at Whole Foods, Penta comes in 1 liter bottles. It immediately stood out to me as a dark horse in these rankings. A minimalist color scheme of purple and white, Penta manages to brag just as much about their water while maintaining composure. Some of that is attributable to the respective bottle sizes, and some of it is fair play to the heady designers with Penta. Tucking in at the midpoint in hourglass form, the bottle is well-balanced and easy to grip.

Strong, responsible, and absolutely domesticated, Penta’s spirit dog is a Golden Retriever.

Refreshingness:

Although it brags about purity “with less than 1 part per million dissolved solids” (eye roll). In reality, some of these naturally occurring minerals are what make the water most satisfying.

3/5.

Sustainability:

Penta is piercing into the industry with clear goals: Purity and sustainability. That means the bottle is 100% recyclable, BPA and BPS free (they are bad, I think?), and even bottled using solar energy. That’s wild. Not even flow got the solar energy and their whole identity is environmental amicability. Oh, and it’s made in America! Let’s not make this comic character selection any harder than it has to be.

Quaflé (Qwaf-lay):

Virgin spirit fly

Boundaries are transparent

Flex on them lil hoe

Price:


evian

Bottle configuration:

I don’t want to live in a world where I see people carrying small evian bottles. I’m also curious as to why so many water brands’ names are entirely lower-case in their spelling. Have some dignity. Anyways, this bottle is crispy AF. The highlight of the design is the shape of the bottle itself, which features the French Alps embedded in the plastic sculpting. Another unprecedented detail is the number of colors used while maintaining a passive allure. I’m about to cop an evian jersey for real.

Attractive, tenured, versatile — Spirit dog: Australian Shepherd

Refreshingness:

Evian has been bottled from a French thermal spa dating back to 1825. The town would later be named Evian-les-Bains in 1865. That’s some icon-type-business and there’s a reason for the proliferation and success. This stuff is GOOD.

5/5.

Sustainability:

While not necessarily in the business of change, evian has somewhat adapted to the times by using 100% recyclable bottles. As a business, evian is certified carbon neutral in North America.

Cultured, reclusive and respected, evian’s most suitable comic character is Black Panther.

Quaflé (Qwaf-lay):

Crisp wind resonates

A higher place is achieved

Primal and perfect

Price:


Eternal

Bottle configuration:

This might be the most eccentric of all bottles. Eternal comes in 1.5-liter quantities and it’s ready to get you hydrated. From Springbrook Springs, New York, it swagger-jacks evian a bit with the fancy embedded plastic designs. As they say, imitation is the greatest form of flattery. While the goal is likely to stand out, it’s awkward shape makes for an unbalanced bottle. The grip is manageable when drinking but it’s terribly unwieldy to carry. Because of its eye-catching yet dysfunctional nature, the most fitting spirit dog is a pug.

Refreshingness:

There’s a pleasure to drinking water “imported from the earth”. It’s a whirlpool of refreshment, lighting up neurons and rejuvenating the body. I recommend a bottle of Eternal accompanying you to a vigorous activity, where its zest will replenish a thirsty body. I will say, however, this is not pool-side water. It is not relaxed. Eternal sings at a higher frequency.

5/5.

Sustainability.

Eternal is roughly as committal as the next classy water provider when it comes to environmental sustainability. That means a 100% recyclable, BPA free bottle. It goes as far as to call itself a “biobottle” and I’m a big fan of inventing words. Still, it could have been more creative, and I don’t know how sustainable it is carrying this thing around. Wholesome, corny, and stepping into an expanding role, Eternal’s Marvel comic character is Falcon.

Quaflé (Qwaf-lay):

A new sun rises

Echoes from the deep prevail

A lesson of rebirth

Price:


Starky Spring Water

Bottle Configuration:

Ok, this is the classiest, glassiest bottle in the game. When you first remove the aluminum cap it makes the most satisfying clicking sound, and you know you’re about to get thirsted TF up. I drop stuff a lot, so naturally, I worry about the unforgiving nature of glass. However, it’s a small price to pay for being somebody cool enough to carry around a glass water bottle. As a design that’s both back-to-basic and trendsetting, with an inviting old-towny logo, the spirit dog is undeniably a Catahoula Leopard Dog

Refreshingness:

I’m not sure if this is the best water, but it’s not not the best. It has some bass to its voice, which I appreciate. The natural minerals do expose themselves in the taste, but subtly. While one is inclined to think, being bottled in Idaho, the water is bound to have a potato flavor. Surprisingly, this is not the case. Instead, we have a mature water, which also makes sense, considering it’s 11,000 years old.

5/5.

Sustainability.

We’ve seen the plastic bottles and we’ve seen the boxed water, but sometimes the smartest way is the old way and that might be the case for Starky Spring Water. The beauty of the glass bottle is that it can be reused, so should you choose to move away from the bottle model of water consumption, you can still be somebody who carries their water in a glass bottle. And to some people that matters. Additionally, glass, made out of natural materials, can be recycled endlessly, while plastic loses its integrity over time. Starky gets it done by seeking the ancient wisdom of the glass bottle. It’s wafty and refined, a perfect tribute to the Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Strange.

Quaflé (Qwaf-lay):

Cyclical vision

Potatoes and big pimpin’

Idaho Poppin’

Price:


That’s it! These are the waters! I hope this list helps you choose which is right for you. If you want to see me sample each water, check the vid below. Cheers!

(1:12 for Fox Ledge — 2:49 for flow — 4:26 for FIJI — 6:58 for Eternal — 8:59 for Penta — 11:25 for essantia — 12:48 for Starky Spring Water — 15:01 for 365 Electrolyte Water — 15:58 for evian)lol


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