Argentinean customs: Have your soda water delivered to your door

It used to be milk that was delivered door to door. In most places around the world, the milkman is a thing of the past. But this tradition is still alive and well in Argentina, although it’s soda water and not milk that is delivered.

A typical sodero

Many Argentineans are fond of soda water (or seltzer water). They drink it by itself or add it to red wine or concentrated fruit juice. The soda water drinkers won’t be caught dead drinking still water, no sir. (I belong to the still water drinkers camp).

Soda water comes in syphons. In the past, they used glass bottles, which proved dangerous when they exploded. Later, a plastic mesh was added for protection. Nowadays, most are made of plastic as it’s safer to handle. The old glass syphons have become collector’s items thanks to their elegant lines, beautiful colours (they used to come in shades of green and blue) and, very possibly, the collector’s own childhood memories.

Glass syphon with protective plastic mesh

What hasn’t changed is that you can get them delivered to your home on a weekly basis. All you need to do is contact your local supplier and let them know how many syphons you’ll need every week. The delivery guy is called the “sodero” and will stop his pick-up truck and call “Soderooooooo!” at the top of his voice for the customer to open the door.

However, the tacit, time-honoured arrangement is that you leave your empties outside for him to collect and leave the same number of syphons. Payment can be weekly or monthly. Some people even leave the money under one of the bottles.

Due to the competition imposed by supermarkets, where you can buy soda water too, soda water companies had to get creative. They now deliver -gasp!- mineral water and fruit juice.

I grew up in the suburbs and have vague recollections of an old-school sodero who still had a horse drawn carriage. It was fascinating to watch but clashed with the modern surroundings. I’m sure the horse manure didn’t make the street sweeper very happy!

 

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About the author

Ana Astri-O'Reilly
Ana Astri-O’Reilly is from Argentina, where she lived until five years ago. She currently lives in Dallas, USA with her British husband, but they move a lot. Previously a translator and English and Spanish teacher, Ana first started writing to share her experiences and adventures with friends and family. She speaks Spanish, English and a smattering of Portuguese.
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17 Comments

  • It’s a prefect example of the evolution of traditions! Fewer people seem to drink “fresh milk” these days and have replaced it with new beverage. It’s odd though to think of soda water being delivered in the way milk to used to be! French never had their milk delivered door to door but i remember going to the dairy shop and buying milk in glass bottles…now i buy my milk in the super market, more convenient but sad!

  • I think milk was delivered when my parents were young but that changed a long time ago.
    I’d love for dairy shops to make a comeback!

  • What a nice little glimpse into local culture! Thank you for that. :D

  • How interesting! Argentina seems to be a service-minded country, with dogwalkers and all. Are there still serviced petrol stations?

  • Hi Sophie. Actually, as far as I know, ALL petrol stations are serviced. They tried to introduce self-serve stations a few years ago but it didn’t work.

  • I need to start getting soda water delivered to my door. Why haven’t I done this yet?

  • SODA DELIVERY is the best! My friend made a documentary about a man who worked his whole life in the soda factory, fixing soda syphons so they could be re-used.

  • Carrie

    How interesting! I can’t wait to see a “sodero” here in Mendoza, will have to keep an eye out!

  • Wow! I never knew people loved soda water that much! I am definitely a fan of still water only.

  • That’s quite neat Ana :) I’d take delivery service.

  • LOL Quite funny. Thank you for the great post. One soda water for me, too.