Allow me to declare in my best cola-nerd voice, “Pepsi already did it!”

In time for what many are expecting to be a scorcher of a summer, British and Russian store-shelves have been graced with a new creation, Sprite Cucumber. Retaining the lemon and lime flavors of original Sprite, this version adds a splash of cucumber for and extra level of refreshment.

The drink seems to be going over rather well there if reports from Twitter are any indication.

▼ Though there seems to be at least one legitimate fan out there.

According to Coca-Cola, makers of Sprite, the inspiration for this drink was that “cucumber water is a highly popular beverage at cafés and restaurants, especially in the summertime. However, nobody has yet produced it as a sparkling beverage or in commercial quantities.”

Nobody except Coke’s biggest rival Pepsi that is. Back in 2007 Pepsi Cucumber was launched in Japan amid not-so-great-fanfare. It did taste remarkably like real Japanese cucumber which, incidentally, tends to be sweeter that varieties in other countries like the U.S., and also divided drinkers opinions.

▼ Here’s CheapyD enjoying some Pepsi Ice Cucumber 11 years ago

However, like most of Pepsi’s unique creations, it was a only a limited run for the summer and almost never seen since. So, when word of Sprite Cucumber reached Japan, a feeling of nostalgia was awakened.

“A long time ago there was a cucumber-flavored Pepsi. Pepsi Ice Cucumber I think it was called.”
“Didn’t Pepsi make this? I didn’t like is so much, but I think people who like melon drinks would enjoy it.”
“Keep it out of here! I hated it last time.”
“They ripped off Pepsi.”
“I guess they couldn’t pull off the watermelon flavor like Pepsi had, so they settled on cucumber.”
“They should bring back the Shiso [Japanese basil] Pepsi.”

Now, it certainly is possible that Coca-Cola, completely unaware of what their largest and most notorious competitor for decades was doing, made a cucumber drink by coincidence, so we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

However, as we can see by the comments, this product has interestingly backfired in that it generated a lot of buzz for Pepsi in Japan with virtually nobody talking about Coca-Cola. And with any luck Pepsi will read some of it and bring back Shiso Pepsi, because that stuff was awesome.

As for the Coke-Pepsi rivalry, I’m not really backing either horse, since I suffer from an affliction in which both taste exactly the same to me. However, I hate to see a case of unrequited love and I think Pepsi has been unfairly shunned in Japan all these years.

▼ Among other things Pepsi also recreated the famous Japanese fairy tale Momotaro using Hollywood actors

Coca-Cola is so ingrained in the public consciousness that they’ve ruled the market with almost no apparent effort. Meanwhile, Pepsi has been playing the “notice me senpai” card for so long and still has barely made in-roads here.

Here’s a run-down of some past Pepsi flavors, to show how busy they’ve been:

There’s a few others too, but for comparison, here’s what Coca-Cola has brought to Japan.

  • Coca-Cola Lemon
  • Coca-Cola Lime
  • Coco-Cola Orange
  • Cherry Coke
  • Coca-Cola Life

Look at that half-assed line-up of so-called “special” flavors, and yet Coke is seen everywhere while you’d sometimes have to go out of your way to track down a Pepsi. In many ways, Pepsi is like the girl in the eighties teen comedy who has glasses but is secretly hot, while Coke is the evil sexy woman leading the people of Japan astray while a land developer plots to turn the youth center into a parking lot.

When will Japanese people wake up and see how much Coca-Cola has taken them for granted and how much Pepsi really loves them and wants them to choose their sugary beverages? They’ve even made a Pepsi specifically designed for Japanese people for crying out loud! Who does that?!

Source: Coca-Cola, Narinari.com, Hachima Kiko
Top image: YouTube/CheapyD