Penguin With Soda-Club’s Penguin, you have the freedom to customize your sparkling waters and sodas.




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about the author
BETH COLLINS is an editor at THE NIBBLE™.


March 2006

Appliance Review / Kitchenwares / Appliances

Soda-Club Penguin

Homemade Soda & Seltzer To Your Specifications


CAPSULE REPORT: The Penguin soda and seltzer maker is one addition to our appliance line-up that’s worth its footprint. We’re saving time and muscle power by making our sodas and seltzers at home. No more lugging bottles to (from the store) and fro (recycling). The sodas, made of natural syrups, are eye-openingly good compared to the artificial stuff we’re used to from major manufacturers. We make seltzer as fizzy as we like. We love our Penguin; and while this unit is pricey for the style, there are options from $89.99. The Penguin made a limited debut in Germany in November 2004 and came to the U.S. late last year, where it won Best of Show at the Gourmet Housewares Show in October 2005.

It seems that every time we turn around, there’s another kitchen appliance being touted as the next big thing: products we never knew we needed but are suddenly supposed to believe we can’t live without. Most are fun for about three weeks, then the novelty wears off and we realize there’s a reason we never knew we needed them: we didn’t. Like a child’s discarded toy, they get relegated to the dark corners of the closet (or garage, or back of the cabinet...), never to be seen again.

When we saw the Penguin, by Soda-Club, we had a feeling it would fit into this category. For one thing, it’s cute, usually a sure sign that there’s something to compensate for. For another, it makes soda, perhaps the one food product you can be sure you’ll find anywhere in the country. Especially with all the great specialty sodas out there, why bother making your own?

Then we tried it. Maybe it’s the utterly adorable penguin shape, maybe it’s the sweet little whistle sound it makes to indicate the level of carbonation, or maybe it’s the fun of turning ordinary water into a custom carbonated beverage. Whatever it is, we’re smitten. Testament to our love: we’ve had the Penguin for more than three weeks, and we haven't once been tempted to stash it away in the depths of our kitchen cabinets. Before we get into all the great things you can make with the Penguin, let’s go over the basics:

What It Is

Put simply, the Penguin is a soda and seltzer maker. With just a carbonator, a carafe and a few manual pumps, it transforms water into seltzer or soda in a wide variety of all-natural regular, diet, and caffeine-free flavors. Aside from creating custom-designed, natural-tasting sodas or sparkling water with your preferred level of carbonation (e.g. mildly carbonated or very effervescent), this wonderful device avoids the schlepping and storage demands of bottled soda, club soda and sparkling water: you make what you need as you need it. The flavoring packets are tiny and store easily. And, no electricity is required: you can make soda or carbonated water on your bar, patio, boat, camper, or anywhere there’s a flat surface.

With 5 million U.S. households drinking carbonated water, or about 500 million liters a year, the U.S. is the second largest market in the world for fizzy water (that’s .6 liter per person). The largest is is Germany, with annual consumption of fizzy waters exceeding 3 billion liters (37 liters per person). Mir raucht der Kopf!*

*My head is spinning.

What You Get

The Penguin Starter Kit* includes:

  • The Penguin machine
  • 4 Alco2Jet® Penguin Carbonators (makes approximately 180 carafes of seltzer)
  • 2 Penguin glass carafes
  • Sodamix Variety 12-pack
  • Diet Sodamix Variety 3-pack

* The Penguin is also available in a Plus Package, which includes the same materials as the starter kit but with six glass carafes instead of two. If purchasing the Penguin through a retailer rather than through Soda-Club, the basic package includes two carbonators, not four. Prices vary.

How It Works

Step 1 Step 2 Step 3
Step 1: Open the Penguin and remove the glass carafe. Fill the carafe with cold water up to the fill line. Step 2: Place the carafe into the stainless steel flask. Add flavoring if desired. Step 3: Pull the horn downward until it meets tightly with the flask. Then, using the locking lever, turn the flask clockwise until the horn is locked with the flask.
Step 4 Step 5 Orange Soda
Step 4: Push the carbonating lever downward several times in firm, short bursts. The water is carbonated when you hear the Penguin's signature whistling “chirp” sound. One chirp means the water is lightly carbonated; five chirps will make super-fizzy seltzer. Step 5: Press the pressure release button, open the flask by turning it counter-clockwise, and remove the carafe from the Penguin. Step 6: Enjoy your custom-carbonated soda, sparkling water or seltzer.

Why We Love It

One of our favorite things about the Penguin is its versatility: it allows you to customize every aspect of the drink. Even something as basic as sparkling water isn’t so basic when you have the luxury of choosing from five levels of carbonation. We have tested each level, from light carbonation (achieved when the Penguin “chirps” once) to mouth-attackingly heavy carbonation (five chirps). We’ve found that different drinks benefit from different levels of carbonation: we like our water lightly carbonated, our sodas medium-carbonated. Our editorial director likes a high-level of carbonation on her water, so much that it “tickles”: we can see kids enjoy soda at that level as well. But that’s the beauty of Soda-Club: you become, essentially, the owner of your own little soda company, creating beverages exactly as you want them.

When it comes to adding flavor to the drinks, the possibilities are vast. Soda-Club offers more than twenty-five flavors in regular, diet and caffeine-free, plus one energy drink. Flavors range from “the usual” cola, ginger ale and root beer to combinations like Apple-Peach. The flavors come in small plastic packets that are mixed into the water prior to carbonation. There is a recipe section on the website with specialty drinks such as Tropical Ocean, SourBerry Spritzer, and—perfect for March—Leprechaun Fizz. There are recipes for cocktails, too; we intend to make the Ginger Julep our staple drink for summer.

While we enjoy Soda-Club’s flavors and appreciate the huge variety—particularly the less conventional flavors like Pink Grapefruit and Orange-Mango—we also think the Penguin provides the perfect platform for experimentation with sparkling water. Take advantage of the opportunity to customize your drinks, and get creative. Add twists of lemon or lime (or both) to make a subtly flavored seltzer; mix in your favorite juice to make a refreshing sparkling juice (that’s how Liz Morrill started in her kitchen, and Fizzy Lizzy was named 2005’s Beverage of the Year by BevNet, a leading industry magazine). Experiment with milk or half-and-half to make egg creams. There really is no right or wrong when it comes to creating flavored-seltzer recipes: if you think it tastes good, it’s a success!

It’s A Good Thing

Tailor-made drinks aren’t the only advantage of the Penguin. As we mentioned earlier, the Penguin doesn’t create waste: unlike store-bought soda cans or bottles, which we use once then toss in the recycling bin,* the glass carafes can be used again and again. Perhaps best of all is that the Penguin saves you from having to lug heavy cases of soda from the store to your car, and from your car to your kitchen.

*According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans drink more than 55 billion liters of soda and seltzer each year. That's about 600 cans for every adult and child in the U.S., which adds 10-1/2 cubic feet of packaging to our landfills and recycling—and that’s just the cans, not the bottles!

There are also health advantages to the Penguin. The regular Soda-Club sodamixes have two-thirds less sugar, carbs and calories than many store-bought sodas, and the diet flavors are sweetened with Splenda®, not aspartame. And if you create your own recipes, of course, you can control exactly how much—or how little—sugar, sodium, etc. goes into them.

Finally, the Penguin is budget-friendly. Yes, it costs $299.99 for the Starter Kit, but once you have it, each liter of sparkling water will cost you about $0.45, which is not bad compared to what you’d pay for a liter of sparkling water—let alone soda—at the store. If you’re like us and can’t get enough of your custom seltzer, the investment will pay off in no time. And, it’s a great gift for the family.  For those who want a less expensive alternative, Soda-Club has two models for under $100: Fountain Jet and Edition 1.  Both produce the same exact beverages, but with a plain carafe and casing. You can get a starter kit and start soda-jerking for as little as $89.99.

Then you’ll see why the Penguin has won us over; in fact, unlike most niche appliances, it has earned a prominent place on our countertops. Sure we’ll still buy our favorite specialty sodas at the store, but when we’re at home and get a craving for a seltzer or a particularly unique soda, we’ll turn to the Penguin and whip up something perfectly tailored to our tastes.

The Penguin Soda & Seltzer Maker

Certified Kosher by The Union of
Orthodox Jewish Congregations

  • Starter Kit
    Regularly $299.99
    Special through August
  • Plus Package
  • Additional Carbonators
    $12.99 Each

Click here to order

Shipping is additional. Prices and availability are verified at publication but are subject to change.

As adorable as it is functional, Soda-Club’s Penguin makes it easy to create your own sparkling waters and sodas.

Fizzy And Fabulous

Soda Pop Homemade Root Beer, Soda & Pop Soda Pop Science Projects
Soda Pop: From Miracle Medicine to Pop Culture, by Michael Karl Witzel, Gyvel Young-Witzel. A delightful coffee-table book and a fine source of information on a pervasive cultural phenomenon. $5.99. Click here for more information. Homemade Root Beer, Soda & Pop, by Stephen Cresswell. This is the only book on the market reviving the traditional American activity of brewing old-fashioned drinks like sarsaparilla and birch beer. $9.72. Click here for more information. Soda Pop Science Projects: Experiments With Carbonated Soft Drinks, by Thomas R. Rybolt. Experiments with soft drinks demonstrate the properties of liquids, gas, and acids. $26.60. Click here for more information.

Join The Cola Club

Soda Fountain Spoon Set Straw Dispenser Waring Drink Mixer
Soda Fountain Spoon Set. Long-handled spoons let you enjoy every slurp of your milk shake, ice cream soda or banana split. $10.95. Click here for more information. Straw Dispenser. Turn your counter into a soda fountain with an old-fashioned straw dispenser. $14.95. Click here for more information. Waring Drink Mixer.
Prepare shakes, whip cream and scramble eggs in this heavy-duty two-speed mixer. $149.00. Click here for more information.


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