Monday, August 17, 2009

Shiso-flavored Pepsi. Can Pepsi Tuna be far behind?

Ever been torn between eating that leaf that comes on the side of your sushi plate, or drinking a Pepsi?

Now you can have the best of both worlds! (As long as you're in Japan, that is.)

New Pepsi Shiso is light green in color, rather than the dark green of an actual shiso leaf. Maybe Pepsi thought a vegetable-colored soda would be unappealing, whereas a foliage-flavored one, great!

Yet to be fair, I have to say, this is actually pretty good. It tastes very strongly of shiso with a lighter taste of Pepsi cola in the background. It's nowhere near as sweet as actual Pepsi and doesn't have the unpleasant chemical aftertaste of Diet Pepsi. It's sweetened by grape sugar, not high-fructose corn syrup, but this is not a diet drink, with 200 calories in a 490 ml bottle.

What's not listed among the ingredients is actual shiso. The bottle does list "natural ingredients," whatever that means. To me, shiso in Pepsi is an unnatural ingredient.

I shouldn't be surprised that the taste of shiso, however created, is so stunningly accurate. Japanese are the world leaders in bizarre beverages.The culture embraces trends at a faster change rate than anywhere else -- this summer's "it" dessert, or socks style, or cell phone cover, will be completely uncool by October. And urban Japanese with the money to travel the world love imported flavors from everywhere, in all kinds of contexts: mangosteen chewing gun, salted licorice cigarette holders. So there's a big industry in finding the next popular flavor, in hopes of reaping a few months of TV "wide show"-fueled massive sales before everyone is on to the next thing.

Pepsi Shiso was on sale, so maybe I missed its moment already. I'm told that last year they did Pepsi Cucumber. Hopefully I'll be here when they bring out Pepsi Raw Mackerel.


Amy Sherman said...

You crack me up! I love the flavor of shiso. Never thought about it in a drink before. I'd certainly give it a try.

Jack Everitt said...

Sorry, but this is just not the "best of both worlds". It's not even a best of either world. Or any world. No worlds at all. None. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Squat.

I am willing to taste it, but that spit bucket better be nearby just in case!

W. Blake Gray said...

But Jack, then you'd have green-colored spit. Ewww.

Amy, if you like shiso, I think you'd like this. I meant to take a tasting sip or two and put it aside, but I almost finished the bottle, and the reason I didn't was the calorie count, not the flavor.

It would have been great with the peppery grilled pig tongue I had at a yakitori place a couple nights ago. I had a honjozo sake, though, and was perfectly happy with that.

SteveinOakland said...

I'm holding out for Diet Pepsi Shizo, which honestly sounds like something Susan would love. We love Shizo and I bet works (cucumber too)...think about what is in a mint julep. Not so different, minus the whiskey.