food

Strange drinks that come and go in the Japanese market

29 Comments

Often, foreigners are surprised at the strange drinks they see in vending machines and stores in Japan. Over 1,000 soft drinks and other non-alcoholic beverages are developed in Japan annually, so the shelf life is quite short in some cases. Here are examples of odd drinks that have come and gone over the past few years.

1. PEPSI Ice Cucumber

PEPSI Ice Cucumber appeared on the market in July 2007. The bold new flavor surprised not only Japanese people, but many Americans who found it weird, to say the least.

2. Hot Calpis

Calpis has a sweet yogurt taste with a milk base. It comes in various fruity flavors and has long been popular in Japan. Of course, the running joke for native English speakers is that “Calpis” sounds similar to “cow piss,” so the drink has always been made fun of. The brand is called “Calpico” in other countries.

3. Black vinegar (Kurozu)

Black vinegar (Kurozu) is considered a healthy and tasty drink. But just how do they make it tasty? Japanese people mix black vinegar with soy milk, blood orange juice and blueberry juice to make it easier to drink.

4. Water Salad (by Coca Cola Japan)

Water Salad is, as the name suggests, water with a salad flavor. Coca-Cola said it used a centrifuge to extract the essence from romaine lettuce.

5. Diet Water (Sapporo Beverage)

Diet Water is touted for anyone wanting to lose weight. It has no calories and very little of anything else. Why not just call it water?

6. Final Fantasy Potion

Square Enix and Suntory teamed up for this herbal drink to cash in on the popular role-playing game “Final Fantasy.” It contained such ingredients as royal jelly, propolis extract, elderberry, chamomile, sage, thyme, hyssop, fennel, marjoram, rosemary, basil, Melissa, carbonated water, caffeine and artificial coloring.

7. Canned Coffee

Canned coffee has many brands. For example, Coca Cola Japan’s Georgia Deeppresso sounds like “depressed” and Sangaria Beverage’s “GOD coffee” can’t help but make one wonder if that is what they are serving in heaven.

8. Kodomo (Child) Beer

“Kodomo (Child) Beer” sounds like beer for kids or non-alcoholic beer. However, Kodomo Beer is actually a carbonated soft drink called Guarana. The manufacturer says it chose the name Kodomo Beer just for fun and added that it sells about 100,000 bottles a month.

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29 Comments
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Over 1,000 soft drinks and other non-alcoholic beverages are developed in Japan annually,

And of these, you can count the ones with any real health benefits on the fingers of both hands.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

"...come and go."

Going much more often.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

It's good Japanese consumers have lot choices. Other countries offer nothing new, still has the same old boring drinks .

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I still remember after the big quake last year, the combini was competely stripped of absolutely everything except matcha-flavored kit-kats. Take the hint Nestle!

4 ( +5 / -1 )

not only drinks, and what about all those "healthy" potion drinks?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Drink makers forever in search of a quick buck.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I still remember after the big quake last year, the combini was competely stripped of absolutely everything except matcha-flavored kit-kats. Take the hint Nestle!

Funny, that's the one thing people go out of their way to get at the J-markets in the US. And I do love them.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

But no mention of "Pocari Sweat"?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I wonder if there is a can museum someplace here. That would be a fun trip.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Some of the drinks in Japan are truly strange but a lot of them are awesome. I love the drink selection in this country. Now if only the would make root beer!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Often, foreigners are surprised at the strange drinks they see in vending machines and stores in Japan.

It isn't just "us". The locals are also baffled by some of the crap companies come up with.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I remember they had azuki Pepsi a couple of years ago too.

It tasted like licking a stamp.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Some of these are absolutely horrid (I'm sure the one's I haven't tried are as well), but what gets me more than the bizarre flavours are when they make a 'seasonal' drink or snack that is WILDLY successful but take it off the shelves come September 1st because it's been decided before hand. If it's successful, keep selling it! Chips are an example: 20 different kinds of 'consomee' and 'mild salt' and 'BBQ' flavours but add one more, different flavour for summer only. Drinks are of course easy to see come and go.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

salaryman: "Other countries offer nothing new, still has the same old boring drinks ."

Not 'boring' so much as tried, tested, and true. They don't introduce these crap drinks because they know how awful they are for the most part and would never come up with such odd concoctions to begin with. Cucumber Pepsi?? "Children's Beer" (call social services!)? And anyway, you talk about all the options Japanese companies offer, but how is that the case if they always discontinue them later? What's this year's Pepsi going to be... let's come up with some ideas for the company to mull over:

Soy-sauce Pepsi: bringing you the cool crispness of the traditional soft-drink along with Japan's staple condiment! It even has the salt content to help the electrolytes in summer!

Macha-Caramel-Milk Pepsi: creamy and dreamy! Cool off in the summer!

Butterfly Larvae Pepsi: Given the Hanryu boom, why not enjoy a little taste! Pieces of the real thing inside!

Miso Pepsi: A traditional Japanese taste!

Goya Pepsi: drink it under your goya curtain and cool off a pace!

I could go on, and on, and on... but you get the point. They DO occasionally come up with something that's a real winner, but then take it off the shelves on the first of September. Makes no sense business-wise, as it's just as hot as the day before. Let's see what monstrosities await us this summer!!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Oh, and before anyone gets the wrong idea, a lot of smaller Korean 'izakaya'-like places do serve butterfly larvae when you sit down. Not my thing personally, but hey, I've eaten or drank equally bizarre things here -- including some of the drinks mentioned in this article.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Oh I hear ya with the whole "That was good! Damn it! Bring it back!!!" Here today, gone tomorrow. Bad business practices. If something is selling out, make more!!! I've stopped trying new crap because what's the point? It doesn't get continually sold!

Melty kiss only being sold in winter.... Gah! "It will melt in summer.." Um, no it won't!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Most Japanese who have tried it, and not many have, think root beer is a strange drink. Weird.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Most Japanese who have tried it, and not many have, think root beer is a strange drink. Weird.

I had never seen nor tried it until I went to the States. It isnt sold mainstream in my big, brown country. And yeah - it is strange.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Serrano: "Most Japanese who have tried it, and not many have, think root beer is a strange drink. Weird."

You're comparing something that's been around for ages and is VERY popular in North America (at least), and Okinawa for that matter (they have A&W!), with Cucumber Pepsi and other products which are around for less than three months!! By your definition ginger ale should also be 'weird'. I understand the point you are trying to make, but the example you use completely undermines it. You'd have to find something that is marketed as a seasonal beverage back home and never brought back, and is bizarre even to locals.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Damn now I miss Pepsi Shiso :(

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Usually when the drink makers try something new in America, it meets with failure. (Anybody here old enough to remember "New Coke"?) I see the breweries are now getting into the weird beverage market. I saw a "Clamato Bud Light" can in the 7-11 yesterday. Bud Light® mixed with Clamato­® (clam juice and tomato juice). Who thinks UP these Frankensteins?!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

wait how is coffee strange? when i go to the states i have to get coffee from a gas station combini or an over priced coffee place.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What was left on the conbini shelves: especially unappealing brands of instant ramen. I love match Kit Kat, and those were gone, too. Why is root beer not sold here except in "gaijin" stores? All those weird flavors. What's up for this summer?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Anyone tried the new Dakara drink?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Kodomo no Nomimono was probably the one drink that made me go more (o_O) than any other soft drink when I lived in Japan...tasty, though. :D

I really miss the soft drinks in Japan - for some reason, that's among the few commercial fields where the companies really don't bother playing it safe, and just let their creative juices run rampant. Going to the fridge in the convenience store was a little exploration all on its own.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Don't know if they still do but, quite a long time ago, they had "children's beer" in Denmark too, called "Christmas beer".

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I wonder how and why did they come up with "Ice Cucumber".

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I wonder how and why did they come up with "Ice Cucumber".

maybe "cool as a cucumber" was picked up somewhere

0 ( +0 / -0 )

They're selling 'salty watermelon' flavoured pepsi in my area. I tried it, couldn't finish it. Terrible, really terrible.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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