It'll never fly

Bottled Mineral Water. It costs 1,000 times more than the stuff that comes out of the kitchen tap, but it looks exactly the same.

It costs 1,000 times more than the stuff that comes out of the kitchen tap. It looks exactly the same, though it's naturally, rather than chemically cleansed. And the taste - well, it's not meant to taste of anything. Yet, bottled mineral water has become the fastest-growing drink on the UK market: we each drank on average 30 litres last year, and sales reached £1 billion.

For Britain's health-conscious, brand-aware middle classes, the elegant glass bottle or squashable, plastic bottle is now de rigueur for dinner tables and office desks alike. And in the modern workplace, where would the office gossips be without the water cooler?

Evian, the UK's brand leader (closely followed by Highland Spring and Volvic), was first bottled in 1826, but bottled water didn't take off until the 1980s, when Perrier pandered to the yuppie obsession with status.

In the noughties, however, our preoccupation is with de-toxing and clean living. So what product better encapsulates purity than water? But at about a quid a bottle, perhaps it's time someone pointed out that Evian spelt backwards is naive.

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