Nostalgia Sunday – Sypholux redux
I don’t like fizzy drinks myself but some of my best friends do. It was to fulfill such desires that I almost bought a soda-maker the other day. Almost but didn’t, partly because soda-makers have become something of a rarity but mainly because the home-soda-water-maker market in Israel has been monopolized by one company. Which is how is pretty much always been except that the cartel now completely held by the Gazoz company (of the Soda Club group) was once held by Sypholux.
It may sound like a disease to be treated with antibiotics, in fact Sypholux was once the brand that launched a thousand wedding gifts, an ubiquitous appliance in any upstanding middle-class Israeli household. Before Sypholux, to get your weekly or daily fix of fizzy water you had to trudge down to the makolet, the corner grocery store, lugging empty blue or green glass siphon bottles which were then refilled and lugged home. Such bottle are now part of any good nostalgia writer’s knick-knack collection (see above left).
And then came the 60s when Sypholux set members of the household free from their yes-deposit-yes-return drudgery. Made of metal instead of glass, the Sypholux came in two parts (left), a shiny metal-encased glass bottle and a red plastic nozzle with a metal handle and housing for the special little red rubber coated cartridges filled with compressed CO2. To make soda, all you had to do was fill the bottle with water and screw a cartridege into place, where upon it would release a “zetz” of gas into the bottle. And hey-presto, you had seltzer!
No longer were glass bottles lugged to the corner store. Instead, you brought in your battery of cartridges to be replaced, so you could run right back home and whip up some more soda.
The Sypholux most commonly came in silver tone, but Sypholux Industries, Ltd. also came out with other models in gold-tone and metallic colors. The factory was so much a part of the Tel AViv landscape for 30 years, and Sypholux so much a part of Israeli kitchenware, it seemed impossible that they would fade from view. But they did.
In the early-90s, competitors such as Soda Club came on the scene with newer technologies and updated designs. Sypholux also fell victim to bottled brand-name soft drinks that didn’t take any work to prepare and promised you nothing but fun in the sun, sex and good times if you drank them. (I know it sounds crazy but can you believe it — people actually fell for this line of advertising!). In 2000, the company stopped manufacturing cartridges.
Today, the Gazoz soda-maker has coopted the tiny do-it-yourself-soda market by cutting deals with mineral water companies, water filter companies and supermarkets. The Sypholux factory has been abandoned — there is a very cool series of photos by photographer Eli Brody on Flickr documenting the structure’s current condition — and Sypholux memorabilia is being sold on Ebay and in flea markets. The marvelous Safta Flickr stream has an entire series devoted to Sypholuxania, including brochures, cartridge boxes and warning lables — definitely worth checking out.