Japan has a drinking problem... but if you've got a thirst for adventure, it's where you want to be.
In honor (or in horror) of these bizarre beverages seemingly not fit to rinse your septic tank, raise a cracked glass to the Top Ten Bizarre Japanese Soft Drinks, our first ten inductees into the Soft Drink Hell of Fame... Jeers!
Our rundown of the Top Ten Bizarre Japanese Soft Drinks gives a pretty good indication why most of the 1000 or so new soft drinks and beverages launched in Japan every year fail miserably.
Look on the bright side, though: they may not be good to drink, but you can't say they're not good for a laugh.
10) Pepsi Ice Cucumber: It's lean, green and sounds obscene
When American companies introduce products tailored for foreign tastes, we often experience discomfiting culture shock. Sort of like when Homer Simpson uses his toaster time machine to go back 10 million years, steps on a slug, and then comes back to an oddly different world. Maybe that really did happen, and Springfield is now Tokyo!
Exhibit A: Pepsi Ice Cucumber, introduced to the Japanese soft drinks market and Pepsi vending machines on June 12th (2007) and to our Top Ten Bizarre Japanese Soft Drinks listing immediately thereafter. Pepsi? Good... Cucumbers? Great! Cucumber-flavored Pepsi? DOH!!
9) Hot Calpis: the drink that makes you think - about NOT drinking it
Cue suave voiceover: "Next time you're out on the town with the one you love, treat her to a cup of Hot Calpis"... then trudge home alone after she pours it over your head. Yes, delicious Calpis - I can't even read it without grinning - is known as Calpico in other countries (for obvious reasons) and is one of Japan's most popular and enduring soft drinks .
Milk-based with a sweet yogurt taste, Calpis comes in original and a variety of fruit flavors. Some drink vending machines offer this bizarre beverage hot... steaming hot.
8) Coolpis: Who wouldn't want to drink something with a name like Coolpis?
Ahh, refreshing Coolpis... THE soft drink to offer guests - before removing their blindfolds. Actually a Korean copy of the disturbingly named Calpis, Coolpis comes in Peach flavor and (stop reading now, if you can...) Kimchee flavor.
Kimchee, for those unacquainted, is a traditional Korean dish made from fermented cabbage and LOTS of red pepper. Makes Peach flavored Coolpis almost appealing, doesn't it? Anyone for a Calpis vs. Coolpis taste test? We could call it a pis-ing contest.
7) Mother's Milk: the breast-tasting drink ever!
And now, for something close to the heart... Mother's Milk. Is there anything in the world more wholesome, more natural, more life-giving than mother's milk? Is there anything in the world that would make you drink it from a store bought carton? NO, on both counts. If I was a baby, maybe, but not from an udder - I mean, another - mother!
I shudder to think of the scene inside one of the manufacturer's factories... those poor farmgirls, milkmaids or what have you, shackled up to cold, pitiless machines that never, ever stop... and then I woke up.