The Bottle Cap Code

My very first week in Budapest was a hot one. I ran into a small store with my new friend Laurie and bought us two bottles of water. After walking outside, I opened my bottle, and the water exploded all over me. What the…?

photo by Lennart Guillet

I took a swig. “This water’s carbonated!

“Isn’t that what you wanted?” Laurie asked.


Laurie laughed. “I did the very same thing when I first moved here.” She held up her bottle. The cap was blue. “You have to look at the caps. Blue means carbonated. Pink caps are for still.”

“Ah,” I said. I repeated it so I wouldn’t forget. “Blue – carbonated. Pink – still.”

“That’s right,” Laurie said. “I know this sounds sexist, but just think of the kids in your classroom. Pink is for those perfect little girls. Blue is for those bubbly boys.”

A few days later, I was in the store buying my girl water when I spotted some bottles with green caps. I hadn’t noticed them before. Later I asked Laurie about them.

“Oh, yeah,” Laurie said. “Green caps mean the water is somewhere between pink and blue – just a little bubbly.”

I chuckled. “So, green stands for that generally good kid who only gets into trouble once in a while.”

Laurie smiled. “Yes.”

12 thoughts on “The Bottle Cap Code

  1. Great blog! I’m here for the first time myself – meeting my girlfriend’s parents for xmas. Still trying to deal with the fact that the national food is salt. I had to break down and get some KFC as a relatively low sodium meal. I love how it costs 100ft to use the John, but 95ft for a shot of vodka. Transit system here puts us to shame though. Never waited more than 3 minutes for any form of transit anywhere! My God, the women here are beautiful.

  2. I haven’t thought of it until you mentioned this. For me, it’s totally normal to have these colours for bottles. It’s fun to read things wich are abnormal for a foreigner and accepted as a Hungarian :) I really enjoy your blog, I think I’ll stay tuned :)

  3. Another great story! I’m a Canadian just back from my fourth trip to Budapest visiting family. Upon my first visit in 2002, I became a dedicated pink cap person. Although I did give the blue cap a chance, my 3 1/2 year old grandson, Liam, would tell you “my Nana does not like sparkles!”

  4. Was a week before someone explained the colored cap system to me. I thought the colors were random design elements.

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