The great taste of canned mikan syrup from a carton.

When our ace reporter Mr. Sato was a child growing up in the countryside, he didn’t have the plethora of colorful sweets on sale today. Back then a can of a fruit was among the best treats he could get. And while the sweet and succulent slices were great by themselves, it was the sugary syrup they were seeped in that made him come back for more.

And every time he had a can of fruit, he wanted more than anything to just gulp down all that sweet nectar left over in the can. Unfortunately, that remained a dream because back then they used can openers that left razor-sharp edges and there was no way his mother would let him drink all that sugary goo, especially in front of his younger brothers who were also pining for some.

Now, it’s almost as if Nissin York, the dairy and beverage arm of the company that makes Cup Noodle, had read his mind. They recently released Canned Mikan Syrup, a drink with the flavor of the syrup from canned Japanese mandarins known as mikan. He found it for 149 yen (US$1) a carton at Natural Lawson, a spin-off of the major convenience store chain Lawson that also deals in fresh produce.

Even the writing on the package seemed so directed at him it made him tear up a little.

“Back when you used to want to drink more of the canned mikan syrup… Now you can make your childhood dreams come true!”

He poured some out into a shot glass and saw it had a hazy yellowish hue, simulating the look of a tangerine-infused syrup rather faithfully.

But to really get a sense of how well they captured the taste, Mr. Sato also got a real can of mikan from Sunyo for 170 yen.

Sharp-eyed readers of Japanese might have caught that the can uses the Japanese word “shirappu” (シラップ) which is based on the English word “syrup” while the drink uses “shiroppu” (シロップ) which comes from the Dutch word “siroop.”

These words have the exact same meaning, but the Japan Agricultural Standards officially use the word “shirappu” in its classifications. This can in particular refers to “raito shirappu” (light syrup) which is a specific category of syrup that contains between 14 and 18 percent sugar.

“Product: Mikan canned in syrup (light)”

Learning about industry labeling standards made Mr. Sato feel a little less guilty about drinking pure canned mikan syrup straight. Still, as he poured it out into another shot glass, he could feel a tingle in the back of his neck as if his mother were glaring at him from across space and time.

“I have to, Ma! It’s for work,” he thought to himself as he stared into the golden liquid. It even had little bits of mikan pulp in it, which he saw as a sign of quality.

Looking at them side to side, the real syrup had a much deeper color to it and the pulp made him feel like it was really full of mikan juice. Just looking at it took him right back to his youth.

From appearances alone, the difference between the two was like night and day, but it was the taste that really mattered.  First, Mr. Sato decided to try the Canned Mikan Syrup drink and raised the glass to his nose for a whiff of the aroma.

The drink was made with two percent fruit juice and other flavorings, giving it a very fruity scent.

After taking a sip, our writer felt it was definitely sweeter than the average soft drink and definitely had the feel of drinking canned mikan syrup.

It made Mr. Sato happy and he felt if someone really needed a canned mikan syrup fix but couldn’t have the real thing, this would do the job nicely.

But to know for sure, he then had to try the real thing…

It had a completely authentic mikan smell and the moment it touched his tongue, he was hooked on it.

“THIS IS IT!” cried Mr. Sato, having finally lived out his childhood dream. It had a full-bodied mikan flavor and the added thrill of doing something forbidden made it taste that much sweeter.

Unfortunately, that feeling is something that Mikan Canned Syrup simply can’t ever live up to, but it did do a respectable job of replicating the taste. For those who still aren’t willing to go all the way and drink the syrup from a real can of fruit, this beverage is an excellent alternative.

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