Today at the conbini I stumbled across a new benchmark in Japanese Soda Pop: “Menthol Shock,” released nationwide in June.
Sometimes I get numb to the flavor options of Japan. I’m surrounded by Pancake Coffee, White Chocolate soda, Hazelnut Pepsi. I stopped really looking.
So today, I just quickly thought, “Oh, Menthol and Lemon? Sounds refreshing!” I paid and then remembered what menthol actually is.
The label alone is worth a bit of deconstruction. Oddly, the most awesome visual is on the back of the bottle.
A polar bear is riding an iceberg in space. The polar bear isn’t angry or depressed. His expression – perhaps he has just noticed the glorious rings of Saturn behind him – is confused. And why not?
Maybe the admen though the bear would build rapport between Menthol Shock and a confused conbini patron seeing menthol-flavored soda for the first time. As if to capitalize on this bonding moment, an off-bottle voice shouts to the shopper and bear alike; “Let’s Try.”
Menthol Shock smells a lot like Diet Sprite, and I generously imagined it would taste like a mojito.
Menthol Shock does not taste like a mojito, unless you make yours with Vicks Vaporub instead of rum.
Other sodas have built successful marketing campaigns on the imagery of my youth – Coca-Cola-filled barbecues, Pepsi Superbowls, etc. But Menthol Shock is not about summer at the beach, it’s about heat rash and violently peeling sunburns.
Menthol Shock leaves a slimy trail of numbness as it slips down your throat. It brings back memories of Novocaine and overdue dental work; nights of ear infections and sore throats. Halfway through the bottle, my stomach panicked, convinced that I was swallowing 350ml of carbonated Listerine.
Menthol Shock does give really good tongue, for what it’s worth. It tingles, it’s exciting, the air in your mouth feels cool when you breathe. Swirling Menthol Shock around in my mouth for a while is a pretty good time, but I just can’t commit to downing another bottle.
Within two weeks of this product’s release, it had vanished. It seems it may have been replaced by the Japanese debut of Mello Yello… we’ll save that for another post.
You can order Menthol Shock online if you live in Japan.
This post is part of the July 2011 Edition of the Japan Blog Matsuri, hosted by NihongoUp with the topic of summer beverages. You can find out more about the J-Blog Matsuri here. If you like this entry, please subscribe to my blog!