Seltzer water was named after the German town of Selters.
Germany loves its beer, but seltzer is a close second. The country is so entwined with the fizzy beverage that the word “seltzer” comes from the name of the German town of Selters, located about 40 miles northwest of Frankfurt, which is famous for its naturally carbonated mineral springs. The springs have been well known in the area for more than 1,000 years, and by 1791, fizzy water from Selters was so popular, it was exported throughout the world in jugs stamped with the name “selters-wasser,” or “selters water.” The word transformed into “seltzer” when the beverage became popular in North America, especially in New York and Philadelphia, around the early 19th century. Today, the Selterswassermuseum (in Selters, of course) chronicles the local spring’s long history.

But Germany’s love of seltzer goes beyond just one town. The world’s first commercial soft drink was created by German jeweler and amateur scientist Jacob Schweppe, who improved upon a way to manufacture carbonated water in the late 18th century. Schweppes soda water expanded throughout Europe, and was mostly sold as a health tonic, especially for upset stomachs. According to the company, some early customers called it “lightning in a bottle” because of its then-novel carbonation. Today, Germany is still one of the highest-ranked countries when it comes to bottled water consumption (fizzy and non-fizzy).