I finally figured out why I love La Croix.

can of La Croix "natural Pamplemousse (grapefruit) flavored sparkling water"

If you’ve never had the pleasure of meeting La Croix, here’s the deal: it’s just bubbly water.

No sugar, no salt, no calories. It’s water, with bubbles, and a little flavor. In a colorful can. It tastes good, but it’s still just water. Usually, in the realm of food and beverage, I go for the highest calorie/dollar ratio. I’m homo economicus. I’m Adam Smith in a powdery wig saying “oh mercy me, this brand-name product costs almost 150% of this generic good!” and pretending to faint.

But somehow I still buy this food-free garbage drink all the time . What is it about La Croix that I love?

Now, I’m not asking why it suddenly appeared everywhere in the country and became the new hipster cliche. That’s a known factor: a beverage company did really good marketing of an anti-soda, right when Americans stopped drinking soda. Libby Nelson wrote an astonishing 2500 words about it on Vox , but it’s pretty obvious how that went down.

I thought for a while that I just liked the name. In case you were wondering, the correct pronunciation is “THE CROW, WITH BRANDON LEE”. Not “la croy”, or “liqwah”, as you might have heard at the last folk-punk show or video game marathon or queer dance party you attended. THE CROW. But the ambiguity of the name gives it memetic drive, and encourages a pleasant agree-to-disagree vibe that’s hard to find in America these days.

It’s not because I’m a recovering alcoholic. I can tell because I still drink a lot of beer and whiskey. (And since I’m a Millennial, the fact that I’m not a recovering alcoholic means that, by process of elimination, I must be a regular alcoholic. But I’ve heard that admitting you have a problem is the most important step, so… I guess I’m good now?)

Seriously, I have a lot of friends who use THE CROW as part of their recovery and I think it’s great. Same for people who use it to kick a soda habit. Fizzy water is way better for you than beer or cokes, and cheaper to boot. Before I discovered THE CROW I drank way too much beer, especially on hot summer days, but it wasn’t because I needed to be drunk. It was the fizz, the cold dewy can, the crisp sound of the can popping open. I didn’t need sugar, or ethanol, or even hydration. I needed the symbolic cue of a refreshing beverage.

This is what I love about THE CROW, WITH BRANDON LEE: it’s a Trojan Horse beverage . It hijacks a habit already planted in your mind: cracking a cold one . It doesn’t erase your addiction to cold ones, it just reprograms your target beverage.

Objectively, THE CROW is bullshit. It’s a terrible plague drink, a late-capitalist monstrosity. There’s zero food value in THE CROW, and every step of the supply chain is a greenhouse-gas nightmare. Instead of drinking cheap, clean tap water, we buy cardboard boxes full of aluminum cans, shipped to us across thousands of miles in diesel trucks, only to throw all the cardboard and metal away the next day and start again. And every time you open a can, carbon dioxide floats off into the stratosphere. It’s tragically, not comically, stupid.

But it works, on its own level. We do all the same terrible carboniferous shit to get a can of ale or soda. At least this stuff doesn’t poison me immediately upon drinking it.

THE CROW is a habit hacking beverage, which is dark magic for sure. But unlike most marketing ploys, this one is transparent. It’s open-sourcery.

Everyone knows that THE CROW is a replacement for “real” beverages. People drink it for their own reasons, not all of them good. Some people want to lose weight. Some want to quit caffeine or alcohol. Some, like myself, just want to ruin a good Scotch by diluting it with grapefruit bubbly (and a shot of lemon juice from a squeeze bottle, for extra tacky).

We can all hack our habits, and we must. To develop cognitive security, it’s crucial to see what Actions you perform to which Cues, and for what Reward.

If you know your own habits, track yourself like a hunter tracks prey, you can hack your life. By wiring in alternative actions between cue and reward, you can take control of the programs of your life. You can be the meta-programmer, deciding your own patterns, rather than the Consume-O-Tron that society programmed you to be.

"la croixs over boys" t-shirt

###### wtf? that doesn’t even rhyme

Like cogsec, THE CROW is a tool. You can use it, or you can have it used on you.

Thanks for reading,

– Max

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