You might have seen cream soda in stores around you. It is a carbonated soda that tastes creamy and is vanilla flavored. You can often find it in cans and bottles of famous brands like Coke and Dr Pepper.
However, these aren’t the only cream sodas that are out there. In fact, cream soda is made differently depending on whichever part of the world you go to. Some countries have brown cream soda, while others have bright colors like pink, blue, and green.
Similarly, the cream soda found in Japan is unique and different from how it’s made in other countries. Keep reading this article to discover what differentiates Japanese cream soda from other versions worldwide.
Are Japanese cream sodas the same in America?
Cream sodas around the world are generally made using similar ingredients. However, there are some differences between Japanese and American cream soda, like the color, the flavor, and different fruits and ice cream.
In America, cream soda is carbonated water, usually light brown, and tastes like vanilla. This flavor comes from vanilla syrup or extracts.
Many popular brands make cream sodas in the U.S., including Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Dr Pepper. However, these soda brands achieve the flavor through a mixture of natural and artificial sweeteners like sugar or high fructose corn syrup. To complete the sweet, creamy flavor, these sodas are high in sugar, so you shouldn’t consume them in large amounts.
Cream soda in Japan, however, is different. The drink is melon-flavored soda water served with a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream and a cherry on top. Moreover, it is bright green. Unlike America, Japanese cream soda manufactured by brands isn’t as popular as the one made in tea shops in Japan by hand.
The most significant difference is that, in America, cream soda contains no additional ingredient; it’s usually consumed directly as a soda from cans or bottles. However, in Japan, you’ll find variations of cream soda that include scoops of vanilla ice cream and fruits like honeydew melons and cherries on top of the ice cream.
What does a Japanese cream soda taste like?
Japanese cream soda is famously known to be a melon-flavored soda. However, the flavor is often described as fruity but not necessarily like a melon.
The green-colored soda part of the beverage has a sweet, fruit-like taste. This fruity, melon-like taste often comes from melon-flavored syrups that are commonly found in Japan but are more challenging to find in the rest of the world.
Besides the melon, the soda has a scoop of vanilla ice cream with a cherry. This adds to the sweet creaminess of the soda and makes it the perfect beverage to drink in the summertime.
Some variations of Japanese cream soda even include serving the drink with small chunks of honeydew melon on the ice cream on top. This adds an authentic melon flavor to the soda to replace the syrup taste and enhances the flavor.
Like all things in life, however, things change. Japanese cream soda tastes a bit different wherever you go. There will always be variations, like different colors, adding more vanilla ice cream, or even adding other fruits. Soda can taste different wherever you go. However, the drink’s foundation always comes from the green, melon-like flavor.
History of Japanese cream soda
The history of Japanese cream soda is ambiguous. However, it is reported to have been introduced in the country in the 1970s. The actual origin of cream soda, though, dates farther back outside of Japan.
Since cream soda was introduced in Japan in the ’70s, it has been an essential part of their culture. It is easily found in places like tea shops which, today, still have a retro throwback vibe to the ’70s when cream soda was first sold in the country.
One of the main elements of a Japanese cream soda is melon. Even in the past, melon was one of the most expensive fruits in Japan. Thus, Japanese cream soda was a delicacy that people couldn’t afford to have too often. That’s why people today, especially the older generation, enjoy Japanese cream soda for nostalgia.
However, cream soda is not indigenous to Japan; no one is precisely sure how cream soda came to be. But according to a majority of sources, one of the first recorded incidents where cream soda was made was in 1874.
Robert M. Green used to sell soda fountain drinks and would make a drink from carbonated water, syrup, and sweet cream. However, when he ran out of cream during an exhibition, he used vanilla ice cream as a substitute. As a result, people loved the drink even more than his original, and he made much more sales than ever before.
There is speculation that cream soda, especially in Japan, is green in color due to Robert M. Green and his name. However, there is no objective evidence to back up those claims.
Are Japanese cream sodas popular in Japan?
Japanese cream soda is a popular summer drink in Japan. Its melon-flavored soda water mixed with vanilla ice cream on top is a delight for all ages. It also holds a nostalgia factor for the older generation.
Cream sodas found in Japan are a delicacy quite commonly seen. This beverage is an attractive option for people of all ages. For the older generation, it reminds them of the ’70s, when the drink first came out and was quite popular. It transports them to their childhood, and it’s an excellent drink while reminiscing the good old days.
On the other hand, children also enjoy Japanese cream sodas. Not only does the bright green color draw them to the soda, but it is also sweet and is topped with ice cream, which kids enjoy. The sweet fruits like honeydew and cherry on top only add to its appeal.
Although you can find Japanese cream sodas in traditional restaurants in Japan as well, they are most commonly found in Japanese tea shops called Kissaten. Kissatens are similar to coffee shops but have some clear distinctions that set them apart.
Kissatens have existed in Japan since the 20th century. However, during the 1990s, cafes became more of a trend, and Kissatens became much rarer. This is why, today, Kissaten in Japan are run mainly by the older generation. They usually have vintage decor and antiques, like phonographs. Moreover, smoking is often allowed in these tea shops, like in the past.
It is at these Kissatens where Japanese cream soda is predominantly found and sold. It is sold in tall clear glasses filled with ice cubes, the green soda, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The whole appeal of Japanese cream soda is to consume the beverage in these Kissaten that are unchanged by modernization.
Kissatens, too, have different variations of Japanese cream soda. Some remain true to their roots and serve the green soda with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a cherry on top. Others have a western influence with their decor and flavors, like swirling the ice cream in a fancy way. Some even serve the cream soda with slices of other fruits on the ice cream.
Cream soda has a rich history in Japan. It didn’t originate in the country, yet it has been an essential part of the culture since the 1970s when it was first introduced. This green, melon-flavored soda with a vanilla ice cream scoop and cherry on top is a beverage beloved by all ages.
Found commonly in Kissaten or Japanese tea shops, this soda now has many variations depending on where you go. However, the melon flavor is the essence that’s consistent no matter where you go.
If you’re ever in Japan, you should take a trip to a nearby Kissaten and experience the sweet goodness of a Japanese cream soda. It might end up being something you love.