Saturday, January 16, 2016

The land that forgot Diet Coke

I know, I know. If there's one thing more cliche than someone new to Japan talking about small accommodations, it's someone new to Japan talking about the wide variety of food and drink you don't find anywhere else.

Just deal with it. I've been here two weeks already and there's something I need to get off my chest.

Long-time readers of this blog know I am a Diet Coke loyalist. I just prefer its taste to that of its competitors, and before you come at me with talk of aspartame poisoning, read the previous link.

So imagine my dismay after living in Tokyo -- as hip and modern a city as there is -- for two weeks and not having found one can, bottle, or fountain nozzle of Diet Coke. I've hit up several convenience store chains (7-11, Lawson, Family Mart, Poplar, MiniMini, etc.) and a couple supermarkets to no avail.

What's a zero-calorie soda drinker to do in times such as these? I could just quit soda altogether, which would be healthier, but c'mon. Can't I have one vice? There are so many other questionable habits people take up that have been normalized; let me have my cold, fizzy drinks.

Instead, I've chosen to adapt. The leading candidates to fill this Diet Coke-shaped hole in my life are below:

For those unfamiliar, we have Coke Zero (Diet Coke's poor relation that arose in an attempt to make zero-calorie soda more "manly"), Pepsi Strong Zero, Pepsi Special Zero, and Mets Cola Zero (no relation to the baseball team, despite the font). The "Strong" in Pepsi Strong apparently refers to its "strong carbonation and strong caffeine", though the beverage also "delivers a crisp taste with a careful balance of spices". Pepsi Special contains dextrin and allegedly suppresses the absorption of fat, but the veracity of this claim is in dispute. Mets Cola just beat Pepsi into the dextrin-enhanced soda market, launching in early 2014.

It's just not the same, but short of importing a pallet or two (and that's a level of effort I wouldn't even put toward acquiring Runzas), this will have to do. Bother.

To put a cap on this drinks break, here's a little something I found that amused me. This might only matter to Midwesterners and language nerds in the audience, but it still deserves mention.

It's Pop soda, not soda pop. Please make a note of it.

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