On a recent sweltering day in Nara, our reporter K Masami grew thirsty while strolling around town. She made a beeline for the nearest vending machine and inserted a coin, looking up to gauge the drink selection. Her eyes then did a double take when she spied a bottle of soy sauce in the top row.
▼ The suspicious 100-yen bottle on the right
…Or so it appeared. After a brief moment of confusion, she realized that the bottle’s label actually read, “Just kidding! Orange.” However, the packaging and design definitely bore an uncanny resemblance to a typical bottle of Kikkoman soy sauce…it couldn’t be a coincidence, right?
The label indicated that the beverage was actually some kind of orange-flavored non-carbonate soft drink, but Masami couldn’t help feeling a bit skeptical. She decided to let her taste buds do the testing and brought it home with her.
Masami first did a little investigating. It turned out that “Just kidding! Orange” was produced by Osaka-based soft drink manufacturer Cheerio Corporation. Apparently it had been sold in the past but was discontinued for a while, and was now making its grand re-entrance to the western Kansai region market.
▼ This Cheerio brand of vending machine should be a familiar sight to residents of western Japan.
▼ Original “Just kidding! Orange” bottle (left) and revamped current bottle (right)
Masami poured some of the drink into a cup and was in for a second surprise. She had assumed that the dark color was merely the bottle packaging, but it turned out that the liquid itself was the color of soy sauce.
With some trepidation, she took a small sip…and was relieved to find that it did taste like orange after all. It wasn’t an overpowering flavor, but a rather gentle one.
Curious to get to the bottom of the soy sauce mystery, Masami actually took it upon herself to contact Cheerio Corporation about why the bottle looked the way it did. She was delighted to receive the following response:
“We wanted people to enjoy and be amazed by something that was far from the usual image of orange-flavored drinks and resembled soy sauce in packaging and color. We’d be pleased if you enjoy the flavor while also enjoying the gap between appearance and taste.”
Masami thought this sounded just in line with the type of humor famous in the Kansai region. To top it off, she then noticed the “warnings” on the back of the bottle:
▼ “This is not soy sauce!”reads the warning in both Japanese and English.
▼ [In red] “Never, under any circumstances, drink a real bottle of soy sauce.”
All in all, she decided it would make an excellent gag gift idea if nothing else.
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