What is melon soda?
Melon soda is exactly what it sounds like. Except not at all, because it doesn’t actually taste like melon. When people visit me in Tokyo, I always try to get them to try it.
“What should I get to drink?”
“Melon soda. Definitely melon soda.”
“… but I don’t like melon…”
“Oh, it doesn’t taste like melon. Just try it.”
“If it doesn’t taste like melon, what does it taste like?”
“Happiness. Just try it.”
(After the order melon soda)
“But, but it’s GREEN.”
“Don’t worry, just try it.”
“But it’s like seriously, florescent green!!”
“JUST TRY IT.”
But they don’t. So I drink it for them. Which, I guess to be honest, might have been my intention all the time. However, my swarm of somewhat jumpy American friends is right; melon soda is a bright, neon green (that kind of looks like radioactive pee).
Melon Soda (メロンソーダ) is a bright neon green, carbonated beverage famous in Japan. It doesn’t actually taste like melon. It looks like this:
Why I don’t understand it:
Who thought it was a good idea to make a bright green, florescent drink that was supposed to resemble a sort-of bland, expensive fruit? (In Japan, melon is freakishly expensive. I’ve seen regular-sized winter melons going for 50 dollars apiece, with their perfectly textured skin and identical, 2 inch stems with a leaf still attached).
I’m not saying melon soda should not have been invented. I’m just saying, there is no part of melon soda (aside from the presence of green) that in any way resembles an actual melon, because while a melon can be a pale green, it usually comes in a pinkish-orange color.
So by that logic, melon soda should be pinkish-orange.
I’m just saying, they should have given melon soda a different name. Like Calpis or any of the other Japanese-invented drinks.
Why I do kind of understand it:
Japan has a melon fetish, and no, not in a perverted way. They have melon bread, melon-shaped cartoon characters, and really expensive melons that you can send to your parents/boss/coworkers to try to get them to like you more around the New Years.
Melon Bread (メロンパン), or melon pan, is an incredibly famous Japanese treat that loosely resembles a cantaloupe. It doesn’t actually taste like melon and is made by baking crisp cookie dough on top of enriched dough. Some variations have chocolate chips baked in the bread or a melon-flavored cream filling.
If this delicious melon soda wasn’t marketed under the name “melon soda,” someone down the road would eventually make another kind of melon soda – possibly more authentic to the taste of melon (and could even be pinkish-orange).
Melon soda was bound to happen sooner or later. I’m just glad it happened sooner. And that it’s so cheap.
Final thoughts about melon soda:
People ask me all the time “What are you going to miss the most about Japan when you go back to Texas?” I feel like they’re expecting me to say something deep like “my friends” or “my fiancé” or “the International Christian University campus” or “sushi,” but instead, without a pause, I always say “melon soda.”
Of all the things to miss in Japan (and believe me, there’s a lot), I always say melon soda. Why? Because melon soda is downright delicious, that’s why.
And no other country (especially Texas), is EVER going to create or market melon soda. I can always make (crappy) sushi in America, make my fiancé move to Texas, and adopt a cat to make up for all the cats I miss at ICU, but when I leave Japan, I lose melon soda.
For other “Things I don’t Understand About Japan” posts, check out:
- Things I don’t Understand About Japan: The Obsession with Crocs
- Things I don’t Understand About Japan: Job Hunting Suits
- Things I don’t Understand About Japan: Lucky Bags (Fuku bukuro) 福袋
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