What is it with Japan and weird drinks? Part of the answer lies in the love Japanese have for soft drinks – surveys show that about 40% of the nation's citizens drink at least one soft drink every day. That's about 50 million people!
In addition, trends come and go very quickly in Japan. What's cool today is as flat as warm Pepsi Ice Cucumber tomorrow... so soft drink companies are constantly coming out with something new and (hopefully) attention-grabbing 'cause one success more than makes up for dozens of failures.
Our list comprises the bad, the even more bad and the downright ugly, and we'll lead off the same way last year's list did – with Pepsi Japan's latest weird summer soft drink!
10) Pepsi Blue Hawaii
Wasn't there already a blue Pepsi, called umm, er, oh yeah - Pepsi Blue? It faded from the scene fairly quickly; a fate certain to be shared by Pepsi Blue Hawaii. Flavored with Pineapple and Lemon, you just know PBH is going to be sweeter than Hello Kitty in insulin shock – actually, it would probably be her IV drip.
9) Fanta Furufuru Shaker
Ever made Jello using 7-Up or Grape Crush instead of cold water? The gelatin retains a little carbonation after it cools. Fanta's Furufuru Shaker seems to be designed on the same principle; a semi-gelled drink that gets fizzy when you shake it. I don't know how you drink it... you'd need a fairly wide straw, if not a spoon. (via Japan Marketing News)
Anyway, all weirdness aside, the most interesting thing about Fanta Furufuru Shaker is the so-called Shaker Dance performed by official Fanta spokesmodel Rika Ishikawa. That girl can really shake her cans... can... erm, just watch the video...
8) Melon Milk
I've actually had Pokka's Melon Milk; both it and a Strawberry Milk version are sold in smallish cans at some Asian markets here in Toronto. It's rather popular in Japan, as are the many varieties of canned coffee Pokka makes.
Melon Milk doesn't taste bad... it does taste kinda strange though. Sort of like milk, with a melony overtone. You sip some, think “that can't be right”, then sip a little more. Before you know it you've drained the whole can – all part of Pokka's dastardly plan, no doubt. Melon is actually a major fruit flavor in Japan. If it's green & fruity, there's probably a melon involved. Consider yourself warned.
Bilk... according to my dictionary, it means “to cheat out of something valuable”. It also makes a terrible name for a new drink – unless that drink is an unholy marriage of milk and beer, in which case it's entirely appropriate. Besides, Japanese dairy farmers are pretty much swimming in surplus milk and if Bilk doesn't work out they could resort to something truly awful, like a cheese drink (shudder).
Bilk... 70% beer, 30% milk, 100% disgusting. Supposedly, Bilk possesses a subtle sweetness that women should find most appealing. Beer bellies, belches and lactose intolerance, not so much. Bilk can be bought at 6 outlets in Japan's northern province of Hokkaido where bears outnumber humans 2:1. Guess they like the stuff, for their pic-a-nic baskets and all. (via Japan Probe)
6) NEEDS Cheese Drink
Well, you balked at Bilk so now it's come to this: NEEDS Cheese Drink. Nuh-uh, that's where I draw the line. I prefer to enjoy my cheese in the solid state, thank you, where I can shave off a paper-thin slice with that fiendish cheese-shaving knife. NEEDS Cheese Drink, I don't needs.
In fact, it seems the only ones who DO needs NEEDS are those pesky dairy farmers in Hokkaido, who “needs” to do something about growing stocks of surplus milk. If only there was something, sort of like a baby but still a cow, who could drink the surplus milk... ah well, never mind. (via F*cked Gaijin)
5) Hawaiian Deep-Sea Water
Remember those old movies, when a few shipwreck survivors are stuck in a lifeboat, dying of thirst? And one guy can't stand it anymore and starts drinking seawater, which drives him INSANE??
Koyo USA Corp wants you to forget all that. The maker of MaHaLo brand “Hawaiian Deep-Sea Water” is making a killing on desalinated deep ocean water thirst-crazed Japanese are falling all over themselves to buy... at between $4 and $6 per 1.5 liter bottle, no less.
Koyo USA Corp produces 200,000 bottles of processed seawater a day and can barely keep up with demand in Japan. According to company spokesman John Frosted, “At this point, we can't make enough. We have no surplus.”
Thank goodness for that, because the thought of seawater beer or seawater cheese drink would drive ME insane!
4) Kid's Wine
Kid's Wine – not just a road trip complaint anymore! Kid's Beer topped our list last time around, but did you know the same company, Sangaria, makes “wine” specially made for children? They also make their website play the cheesiest, most annoying music ever heard online. Maybe you have to be drunk on Kid's Wine to truly appreciate it.
3) Placenta Drink
From Kid's Wine to Kid Swine... Ahh, the things women will do to stay young and beautiful for us!
Thank you ladies, really... but there comes a point where bizarre beauty potions intended to make you luscious, just make us nauseous – and Nihon Shokuten's eerie series of placenta products are a prime example.
Made with swine placenta, the drink carries the automotive-sounding name of "Placenta 400000" - perhaps it's made from the ground & pressed extract of 400,000 placentas? Nihon Shokuten's not telling, but their revolting beverage should come pre-packaged with mints because there's nothing worse than placenta-breath in the morning.
2) Eel Soda
Unagi-Nobori soda is no ordinary energy drink, oh no... this terrific tonic is infused with a generous helping of eel extract. If you think there's something fishy about that, you're unfortunately right.
According to Japanese folk tradition, eating eel is reputed to give one extra energy on summer's hottest, most humid days.
These days though, one doesn't always have time for a leisurely lunch of delicious barbecued eel.
No problem – Unagi Nobori bottles essence of eel along with 5 essential vitamins in a carbonated medium. Make my medium small, if you don't mind... and by the way, Unagi Nobori is brought to you by the nice folks at Japan Tobacco, known for "healthy" products with smoky flavors. (via Japan Marketing News)
1) Okkikunare Drinks
Okkikunare is Japanese for “make them bigger”, and do I really have to tell you what “them” refers to? Well, maybe I do - lest guys with macho issues rush to place orders, the apple, peach and mango flavored drinks are quite popular among teenage girls in Japan.
Made by a comapny called Welcia, the special bust-boosting ingredient in Okkikunare drinks is powdered Arrowroot containing the same sort of isoflavones found in soybeans, which are said to “stimulate the female hormone system.”
Seems a little sketchy to me... then again, the drinks are also sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup, which has been linked to obesity. Therefore, EVERYTHING gets bigger the more you drink, not just the, umm, apples, peaches and mangos. (via DumpSoda)
And there you have it, Ten Even More Weird and Bizarre Japanese Soft Drinks. And, in case you were wondering, no Pocari Sweat again this time. Not even the doggie version, “Pet Sweat”. Odd as it sounds, Japan can do much better... or worse, as the case may be.
So, consider yourself warned, Japan can pack a few surprises for the unwary, thirsty traveler. Be sure to pack some Canned Bottled Water on your next trip there – it's lighter than the Bottled Canned Water and likely has even fewer calories!
Check out last year's list here.