Monday, March 16, 2009

Sakura Mist Soda Pop

Coca-Cola Japan is starting a new campaign that they are calling "Chill Time". If you think that's a translation of the Japanese, then you don't know how often Japanese marketers use distorted English to invent new words. The Japanese reads as "Chiru-taimu" (チルタイム) which is as close as they can get to the English using Japanese phonetic characters.

As part of that campaign, they're creating a series of what they hope are sophisticated and "relaxing" beverages that cater to the tastes of adults. The main points are that they not be too sweet, possess a bit of bitterness, and mix well with alcoholic beverages. I'm guessing at that last bit based on the fact that the side of the bottle of "Sakura Mist" that I bought has instructions for mixing vodka with it and serving it up with a cherry. In other words, this is not meant to be cherry soda for kids.

Since the Japanese population is top heavy with older folks, marketing a product specifically toward adults is probably not a bad idea. Marketing something which pairs well with booze, considering the rate of imbibing in Japan, is an even better idea. While I have vodka that a student gave my husband stashed away, I'm not a drinker so I will be judging this solely as a stand alone soft drink. I may attempt to bribe my husband into giving it a go. If I'm really lucky, perhaps I can even manage to convince him to get drunk on vodka and cherry mist so I can take advantage of him.

Cherry (sakura) was chosen because the cherry blossom viewing season is at hand. "Sakura Mist" was released on March 10 so I stumbled across it pretty soon after it hit the shelves. In a hideous merger of two concepts, this release is being called "chirutaimukura" ("chill time" + "sakura"). I view this sort of combining of words in the same manner that I view those obnoxious mergers of names like "Brangelina". If you're too lazy to say two words separately, then don't bother talking about the topic at all.

When I removed the cap, the first thing I did was give it a good sniff to see how strong the cherry flavor might be. It smelled a lot like cherry Nyquil with a hint of cherry Kool-aid. When I first tasted it, it really tasted much more like peach than cherry, but after getting through about 1/3 of the bottle and letting it sit on my tongue a bit longer, the cherry flavor came through. There is a hint of bitterness in it and it does taste slightly medicinal though not in an overpowering way. It reminded me a lot of club soda with some bitter cherry flavoring added into it. Considering the fact that Canada Dry makes club soda in Japan, I wouldn't be surprised if that is pretty much what this is.

I'm not accustomed to drinks with sugar in them because I'd prefer to spend the calories somewhere else so I viewed drinking this as an indulgence and the taste had to be pretty good to be worth the sugar. The nutrition information says that this is 33 calories per 100 ml so the entire bottle is 165 calories which is a bit much for a "sophisticated", lightly-flavored club soda. Considering that the first ingredient is the equivalent of high fructose corn syrup in Japan, it's also something to be avoided for that reason if no other. I didn't hate this, but I didn't love it. I found the flavor mild and slightly interesting, but ultimately a bit bland. I think people who like weak flavoring might find this more enjoyable, but only if they can also tolerate a small chemical aftertaste. I wouldn't buy this again and wouldn't have bought it initially had I known what it was going to taste like.


Helen said...

" If I'm really lucky, perhaps I can even manage to convince him to get drunk on vodka and cherry mist so I can take advantage of him."

LOL! If my husband drank vodka I could do that too.

I think I'll give it a miss too. I'm not big on sugary drinks either.

Kelly said...

I don't need to get yasu drunk to take advantage of him, if i'm ready he's always willing! :)

I hate cherry flavour anything, it always tastes medicinal.

Club soda is usually lemon here so it was funny reading about cherry club soda.

Anonymous said...

This may be naive of me, but I thought Japan stayed clear of HFCS? What a bummer... those are the worst, I hope they don't add it to various chocolates, etc.

Orchid64 said...

I thought they did as well. It may be a slightly different thing, but it's called "grape sugar" on the bottles and it is the equivalent of HFCS. It may be processed differently, but it seems to be a fairly similar thing. I think the main point is that they don't use cane sugar syrup (like they do in Mexico), but rather a processed sweetener.