Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Drinky Drinky

I drink a lot. Not alcohol, but carbonated beverages. I have an addiction to being well-hydrated. I like to think it's hereditary, because insofar as I know, none of my relatives has ever died from dehydration. As you can imagine, Japan has different companies and, therefore, different brands of sports drinks, soda pop, etc. Though both Coke and Pepsi have strong followings here, they are not the only game in town. While you can find Coca-Cola and Sprite on the shelves of grocery stores, it is somewhat tougher to find Mountain Dew and Pepsi. Additionally, there are tons of Japan-specific flavors like (believe it) Ice Cucumber Pepsi.

Honestly, I didn't even know Mellow Yellow existed until I came to Japan. It's Coca-Cola's answer to Mountain Dew, but since Mountain Dew is so scarce here, this drink is my only option. It was re-branded in June of 2011 in hopes of inspiring a larger following overseas. So far, at least in my hometown, it's not doing very well. It is not carried at my local grocery store and can only be found in vending machines or at convenience stores.

If you want to know what it tastes like, imagine regular Mountain Dew. I'm no gourmet, and my pallette doesn't discriminate, so I don't have a list of words to describe the essence of divine cuisine. This drink tastes like warm Mountain Dew. Not great, but tolerable.
Lifeguard is one of the drinks I frequently tasted during my home-stay in 2009, and it tastes just as bad as I remember. You can see the words "Royal Jelly" on the side. Jelly drinks are popular in Japan, which is why it pays to look closely at whatever beverage you're buying, in case you get one that is more solid than liquid by accident. This drink is marketed as a Red Bull-style energy drink, and the taste is similar, although it tastes like the sugar content was watered down. There's probably a lot less caffeine, too.
This is a rare one; I bought it because it has the cartoon character Freiza on it, a popular villain from the cartoon show Dragonball Z, which I watched when I was a child. The drink itself tastes similar to Lifeguard, but there's something about it that didn't mesh with me. I ended up dumping it into the sink.
Mmm... cream soda! Nowhere in Oregon have I ever found melon-flavored soda, except at Japanese import stores. You'd think it would sell just as well as other fruits. In America, we have apple, grape, orange, pineapple, etc. This particular drink is called "Gabu-Nomi," which according to my dictionary means "gulp" or "swig."

Yep, "Gulp Melon Cream Soda!" It's delicious and filling, and kind of tastes like a combination of melon soda and ice cream, which I'm sure was their intention. It says "Sapporo" on the bottle, so I assume it's produced either in the city of Sapporo or by the Sapporo Brewery, which ironically no longer brews in Sapporo, haha.

Next time, I'll try to cover more popular beverages. These are all less-than-famous famous brands. The heavy hitters are drinks like Pocari Sweat, Calpis, C.C. Lemon, Aquarius, Nachan, Boss Coffee, and Ramune. Most of them taste pretty good, too.

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