Wednesday, July 9, 2008


One of the stranger enigmas to hit the frozen food case is the case of the カラフルラムネバメロソーダ - the "colorful ramune bar melon soda," from Morinaga. What exactly does this all mean?  At the heart of the mystery is "ramune," which is the name of the first carbonated soft drink marketed in Japan.  It's a lemon-ish soda in a distinctive bottle, crimped at the neck creating a bubble that held a glass marble. A strange and playful invention that amuses kids and folks like me. "Ramune" is an antediluvian bastardization of "lemony." Once the floodgates of carbonation opened, Japan embraced various and sundry flavors, including melon. Great in concept, weak in execution, melon sodas can be found in many a soft drink machine during the sweltering summer months. 

So, this crazy little frozen confection has a layer of melon soda ice, covering a layer of a lemon ice. But never leaving well enough alone the whole thing is jam-packed with little citrus acidy sweet tart type candies that burst into tart mouth-numbing exclamation points on one's tongue. It may be all in good fun, but it certainly doesn't work as a taste sensation. It's more of an assault.

Of course, it's all tied into a multiple platform promotion that includes the ice cream bar, the soda, and an anime series.  Yes! 

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Dekavita C

Suntory's Dekavita C is in the realm of a long line of energy drinks marketed to Japanese consumers largely for hangover cures, but also for getting rid of bags under one's eyes, sexual enhancement and stamina, and God knows what else.  Like all energy drinks, it's basically carbonated sugar water with a few vague herbs or artificial flavors to give one the sense of maybe a bit of healthiness. Dekavita C boasts a number of B vitamins.  Oh, and C.  Tastewise, it's kind of the poor man's Red Bull. Like a light cassis, with a bit of a Robitussen edge, the taste follows through with quininic tannins.  A not entirely pleasant taste.  But remember this is supposed to be good for you.  And the massive jolts of sugar eventually cover up any sort of subtlety in the taste.  
Like many an energy drink Dekavita C capitalizes on the idea that by connecting with the very drink itself, the consumer connects with "energy." And this energy transforms one into... someone better, more appealing, beyond and outside of one' s self. It's a sacrament of shamanic release that let's one partake of the mysteries.  Of transcendence. Traditionally the realm of drugs and alchohol, the energy drink is attempting to usurp these venerable media, these keys to the beyond.  But let's face it.  It's still sugar water.