Soda Pop and Graphic Design

guaranaI’m a sucker for a bunch of things, and one of them is soda pop from other countries. If I wanted to be all pretentious and self-serving, I’d say that this fascination stems from how “pop” is deeply woven into the mainstream of most cultures, and by drinking popular beverages from other cultures, I’m getting a part of that experience, albeit second-hand.

But I won’t be pretentious. The truth is that there’s way more variety in tastes and flavours from exotic pops than most North American ones, which tend to taste like liquified dust or syrupy, “HEY MAN, YOU’RE DRINKING ME!” sugar explosions.

Not international pop - it tastes good, man! Well, many of them do, though I haven’t had the privilege of trying Pocari Sweat yet. Maybe one day when I’m feeling daring.

Another thing that I really like about foreign soda is that they often have had some of the best poster art and graphic design attached to them throughout the years. Coca-Cola has had some great visuals in the past too, but the stuff tastes like crap so it doesn’t count here. smile

(Trivial note: The “Cola” in Coca-Cola comes from the Kola fruit, which was mixed with flavouring from the coca leaf to create the original taste of Coke. So Coke used to be a kind of fruit drink, though I highly doubt it tastes anything near what it used to taste like.)

Guarana be mine?

It’s almost better than coffee. Almost.

Some of my favourite international pop drinks include the Brazillian Guarana, which is made from the fruit of the guarana plant, and is legendary for its caffeine / energy-boosting properties. There’s a bunch of companies in Brazil that make drinks with guarana in them; my favourite is Guarana Antarctica (marketed worldwide by Pepsi).

The taste of Guarana is hard to describe, but it’s a fruity taste; it’s citrus-like and light without being too syrupy. There isn’t really anything that compares to the taste in North American pops. Drinking a Guarana leaves you with the impression that the thing you’re drinking might actually taste like what the fruit tastes like. Try finding a mass-produced pop in North America that can say that.

Can anyone help me track down any vintage advertising for Guarana? I couldn’t find any in the places I searched… they gotta be out there, though.

Orangina, c’est magnifique!

It’s French, it’s fruity, it’s fashionable!

orangina4Another fave is the oh-so French Orangina, which is like very refreshing orange juice with a touch of fizz. I first heard about Orangina via a French textbook that I read in Ms. Kilty’s grade eight French class (along with Johnny Halllyday and Edith Piaf) and have been addicted to it ever since. It makes C-Plus taste like the pee-pee de chat that it is. The fact that you can find two litre bottles of Orangina in most corner stores in Toronto is just another reason why living in a big city rocks the house.

Orangina has a long history, and there have been a lot of beautiful Orangina posters created to advertise the tasty beverage.

Has anyone tried the “Orangina Rouge” advertised on the web site? They also have a product line called “Orangina Light Tentation” (light temptation?) which boasts such flavours as “Agrumes-Pêche-Vanille” (citrus fruits, peach, vanilla), “Citron Vert-Banane-Toffee” (I think that’s lemon line, banana, and toffee [!?]), and “Pamplemousse-Abricot-Caramel” (grapefruit, apricot, and caramel). Oh, those wacky French!

Enter the Italians

aranciataThe Italians also have some great pop beverages available, including Aranciata SanPellegrino, which is an orange-flavoured drink with a very similar taste as Orangina. The main difference, as far as I can tell, is that Aranciata is slightly more fizzy than Orangina, but the difference is minor. It’s very good, too.

For those of you who prefer a more tangy flavour, there’s also Limonata SanPellegrino, which as you might guess has a lemony taste. SanPellegrino also makes a ton of sparkling mineral water beverages, though that’s not really my bag, but I’ll mention it anyway.

Oh, here’s the SanPellegrino English site, in case you were interested.

Chinotto: Italian Soda or cure for what ails you?

No, it doesn’t “taste like ass” (as overheard in a café once)

My current favourite is Chinotto. Chinotto is an Italian drink made from the chinotto fruit which truly does have a taste all its own. The best description of it is a slightly bitter (but still sweet) cola taste; almost like watered down, fizzy cough medicine, but much better than it sounds.

A few days ago I stopped by an Italian sandwich joint and picked up a Chinotto. I was pretty excited (proof that I’m a nerd) to notice that SanPellegrino not only redesigned the Chinotto cans (see the image below) - they also redesigned the entire sode line. All of them look amazing, though I think the Chinotto can looks especially fetching with its strong use of type and the bold black background.


I especially like how they’ve alluded to the fruit origins of the drink in the new logo figure on the cans, which I find very evocative of the old 30’s and 40’s posters.

So, yeah. I like funny soda pop, and I like graphic design. If you know of a soda that you think I should try (I’ll try anything once), leave it for me in the comments. I wonder what Chinese or Middle Easter soda tastes like?

I really wish that Josh and Kevin would update The Knowledge for Thirst.

“A beverage-centric website operated by two gentlemen who really enjoy juices and sodas.”

Funny, entertaining, and damn informative.

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