It's easy to have a Coca Cola® in Japan. According to www.japantrends.com, there are approximately 980,000 Coca-Cola system vending machines in Japan --- the No. 1 share of soft drink vending machines in Japan --- about 20% of the market. And as I found out recently they are one of the major drivers behind the ubiquitous vending machines on the main streets, side streets, back streets, rural lanes all over Japan. According to the Japan National Tourist Organization there are currently about 5.52 million vending machines nationwide. The penetration rate in ratio to Japan's total land area is top in the world.
I've relied on these machines to grab a drink now and then. But as many things in Japan, this trip I found things I didn't expect.
This product for example:
When I first saw it, I had no idea what it was, and i couldn't read all those little characters on the bottle. I figured out it had no calories, that what it says at the bottom of the bottle, but what the heck was the "Plus". Well I did some research.
It turns out that the "plus" is a dietary fiber. According to the Wall Street Journal, each bottle of the new product, Coca-Cola Plus®, contains five grams of indigestible dextrin, a source of dietary fiber that is known to work as a laxative,
The WSJ goes on to say, "But that’s not all it can do: A press release from the brand issued last year, at the time the beverage was introduced, says, “Drinking one Coca-Cola Plus per day with food will help suppress fat absorption and help moderate the levels of triglycerides in the blood after eating.“ But, the packaging warns, don’t drink too much, because that can lead to "loose bowels,” So glad I didn't just grab a few and gulp.
Moving along ... Coca Cola, like many products in Japan participates in the introduction of seasonal products. I had an orange flavored Coke here two years ago, long before they introduced the orange, lime etc flavored diet cokes in the US.
Of course there is the sakura (cherry blossom) flavored Coke, in the special sakura patterned bottle. There's sakura flavored everything in Japan in the spring.
And it's not just flavors. Those little aluminum bottle come is "collectors editions.
And then there's frozen lemon CocaCola in a collapsible pouch,
But the most interesting "cola" thing I have found in this area, is ColaUp gummy candies. The are not a Coca Cola product ... just look like one.
They actually taste like a cola, and are shaped like little tiny coke bottles. But the best part is the marketing message in tiny text on the corner of the package ... "Enjoy the delicious cola taste gummi with bouncy texture. We well be more than happy if you become a happy feeling."
Gives me a happy feeling.