The children of parents who ran and organic grocery stores are growing up, and they’re ready to push for healthier, mindful alternatives in the corporate food space. That was the initial impetus for Nixie founder, Nicole Bernand Dawes, anyway.
Back in 2003 she took the values instilled by her entrepreneurial parents and started Late July Snacks, one of the first brands in America to be certified USDA organic. Two decades ago, Dawes was making chips that were gluten-free, vegan and paleo, long before these eating trends were as prevalent as they are today. Not satisfied to simply revolutionize the world of chips, though, Dawes set her sights on another market that was crackling with potential growth — the seltzer business.
Ever wished there was a woman-owned, organic substitute for La Croix, especially since all those rumors about BPA can liners and not-so “natural essences” began swirling a few years ago? For those who are looking for more transparency in their fizzy water, Nixie is an obvious choice. Nixie is a new seltzer that’s certified organic, and quickly becoming one of the fastest-growing sparkling water brands in the country.
Though La Croix has an “all-natural” focus and sought to position itself as a saint against Big Soda, they began to face backlash when the colorful cans became wildly popular, but have been mostly cleared themselves of any real nightmare ingredients, including a shift to become BPA-free in 2019. Aside from an emphasis on organic ingredients, Nixie’s cans have always been 100% BPA-free, and their seltzer is non-GMO (genetically modified organisms), gluten-free, and vegan. For the aesthetic-minded, the cans are just as colorful and cute, and two of the flavors are even made with tea for the option of a zing of caffeine.
The other concern with La Croix, though, is that simply using the phrase “natural flavorings” without disclosing exactly what’s in the mix can be a bit misleading. In contrast, understanding and valuing the difference between natural and organic products is a driving force for Dawes in all of her product design. Natural simply means no artificial ingredients or added color; organic means no pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, or genetic engineering are used in the farming and growing process — there’s a big difference between the two, though marketers love to lump them together.
Because increased awareness and education around food and drink is having a real impact on reforming the food and beverage industry, and Dawes said that Nixie’s growth since launching in 2019 is heads and shoulders above the growth during the launch of her chip company in the early 2000s. “The wellness shopper is driving trends and growth within the food and beverage industry,” she said in a press release. “As we saw with Late July, if you offer consumers a delicious, certified organic and competitively priced option it can become the category leader. I’m excited that after our first year at Nixie we’re already outpacing where we were during year three of Late July.”
So is the water any good? I was sent a sample of the stuff in early 2021, a time when I usually attempt to embark on some sort of Dry January commitment, but given how many other things have been stripped away during the pandemic it really didn’t feel necessary this year. Still, cracking open a Watermelon Mint or Lime Ginger sparkler around happy hour time instead of reaching for a glass of wine was a great alternative, and even the newer tea flavors, Peach Black Tea and Pomegranate Green Tea, which contain a bit of caffeine, taste clean and light.
While I’m not a big fan of Perrier or other mineral waters because they don’t have quite as much effervescence, Nixie had that nice crackling mouthfeel that La Croix and its legion of copycat brands work for, with no weird aftertastes or lingering minerality. Grapefruit lovers won’t be disappointed as this version holds up to any Pampelmousse, and the Lemon and Lime are equally fizzy and refreshing.
But it’s the Watermelon Mint and Lime Ginger that stood out to me the most, I’ve never seen a seltzer incorporate herbs and botanicals into their flavor profile and these combinations almost feel chef-driven, and make me miss fancy booze-free water and fresh juices at restaurants. And, if you do need a calorie-free mix-in for some at-home happy hour indulgences, the flavors blend well with other beverages, adult or otherwise.
Overall, Nixie looks and feels like a better, healthier version of the sparkling water I love to always have on hand, and even if it’s a little more expensive than some other options at around $6.50 for an eight-pack, I’ll gladly pay a few extra dollars to help support a woman-owned company that’s actually prioritizing organic practices in everything she does.
Learn more about Nixie here.