Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Pepsi Baobab

Recently, I was having a conversation with the student who gave me the wasabi KitKats that I reviewed yesterday, and she and I were talking about how there is a difference in the American and Japanese market for snacks. She asked why I believe companies like Pepsi released oddball flavors like Pepsi Shiso, Pepsi White, Pepsi Adzuki and this (at the time upcoming release) Pepsi Baobab.

I can't know for certain, but I think the Japanese market places a higher premium on novelty than the American one. We want new favorites and they want flavors of the month. Generally, I think the Japanese market wants to "taste and forget" more than Americans do (which is the only nationality I'm even remotely qualified to speak for), but I do think that these wild Pepsi flavor choices are mainly for media attention and a way of building the Pepsi brand as one that is distinct from Coca-Cola. Coke has held the market longer than Pepsi, so they have a chance with these exotic drinks to distinguish themselves.

Pepsi Baobab has one of the loveliest label designs and is a nice golden colored liquid. The design is meant to reflect the origin (Africa) of baobab, the fruit that is supposedly the basis for this drink. I had somewhat better expectations of this exotic Japanese Pepsi blend than I have had of some of the others because I think that fruit, particularly one that is known for having a lot of vitamin C (which means it may be "citrusy" in flavor) lends itself well to carbonated drinks.

When I opened the bottle and inhaled, I smelled something which is reminiscent of grapefruit. The soda on the front of the tongue doesn't taste like much at all, but as it hits the back of your mouth, it does seem to have a sweet orange with grapefruit undertones flavor. It has a dry finish, which I think may be the "Pepsi" element. The flavor is quite pleasant, but I rarely drink beverages with sugar, so this seemed a little too rich and syrupy for me. That being said, if this were available in a sugar-free version, I'd buy it regularly as a change of pace from my usual Coke Zero consumption. The flavor is light, pleasant, and like a citrus blend. It is especially nice as a summer beverage. The "grapefruit" aspect is all of the goodness without any of the bitterness. The "orange" tones are related mainly to the sweetness. This was pretty decently carbonated and had a proper "burn" while drinking it.

A 500 ml. bottle of Pepsi Baobab, currently available in all of the big name convenience stores in Japan for about 150 yen ($1.66), has 42 calories per 100 ml. That means drinking the whole bottle is 210 calories. Note that this was released today, so it should be around for awhile. I do recommend that people give it a try. This is actually pretty good, and by leaps and bounds the best oddball Japanese Pepsi flavor so far.

There's an interesting little article on baobab as a "super fruit" from the BBC here if you're interested in further reading.

This is also reviewed at The Impulsive Buy.


Meredith Peruzzi said...

This must have JUST come out, because I picked some up today too! My 7-11 is full of Pepsi Baobab. I haven't cracked mine open yet - googled it first to see what I was in for - but after your review, I'm looking forward to it!

Orchid64 said...

Hi, Meredith. It did indeed just come out today. I hope you enjoy it!

Thanks for reading and commenting!

ebidebby said...

Interesting flavor! I hope I can try it eventually; it took months for me to get an Azuki Pepsi in the US - so not worth it.

I have found that there are plenty of limited edition flavors of Mountain Dew in the US as of late. They come and go with movie releases, video games, contests, and even the winners never stick around for long. There's even a white Mountain Dew right now that tastes a tiny bit like Calpis! In short, some of that limited edition spirit is slowly catching on. I'm sure it will never reach the level of Japan, though.

Jubei said...

The only Baobab I know is the great band Orchestra Baobab.