Monday, April 08, 2013

Do Kids Need Their Own Brand of Water?

I came across this at our neighborhood Gristedes: a brand of bottled water aimed specifically at kids.

The product, called "WAT-AAH," comes in a few varieties. The Power version has "bone-building magnesium," while the Energy flavor includes "energizing oxygen." (It's been a while since high-school chemistry, but I thought ALL water has oxygen.)

 My immediate reaction was: Do kids need their own water?

Also: Is this the second coming of Bic for Her? (So far, the Amazon reviews for WAT-AAH are considerably less snarky, though not especially positive either.)

It turns out that WAT-AAH was developed by a local mom to make water cool and help fight childhood obesity.

From the WAT-AAH website:
One night, over dinner, while watching her two young boys slurp back another sugary soft drink, their mom asked them, "Why don't you drink water instead of soda? How can I get you to drink more water?!" 
Here's what the boys said to her: "It's not cool. Water is boring." Rose Cameron (the mom), who had built a career working in branding and advertising for the very soft drinks her kids were consuming, saw the future very clearly. Set with the idea of creating a brand of water for kids, she and her two boys kept screaming "water" over and over again for inspiration and soon it sounded like WAT-AAH!
When I first saw the different varieties of WAT-AAH, I assumed the product had special flavoring in it. Wouldn't that only worsen the problem of plain-old water seeming boring to kids? But it appears like none of these "flavors" affect the taste (in fact, I'm not sure they make any difference at all; e.g., oxygen).

So I suppose if kids are buying this instead of a bottle of soda, good for them.

If kids are buying this instead of drinking tap water, that's less good.

I don't have to go into the absurdity of buying bottled water here in New York City, which has world-class tap (though I'm still partial to the ol' Hetch Hetchy). But teaching kids to pay money for something that's free, while generating plastic waste in the process, doesn't seem like a great life lesson.

I also wonder if the WAT-AAH branding will work outside the Northeast — in places where people actually pronounce their Rs.