Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Taiwan Treats: Pomelo Sprite.

For those readers who, like myself, can't read Mandarin, I'll translate- this is a bottle of pomelo flavored Sprite. And for those readers who, like myself one year ago, don't know what a pomelo is, I'll explain- it's a large bowling ball sized fruit, similar to a grapefruit, but with a slightly sweeter and less bitter flesh. Native to Southeast Asia, it's also known as Chinese Grapefruit .Though it's tough work extracting the juicy pink segments from the thick, fibrous skin, the tartness of the fruit is rather enjoyable, and it's the basic ingredient for one of my favorite Thai dishes, a tangy salad called yam som o.

Considering that pomelo is a relatively Asian specific fruit, I was a little surprised to see it marketed as a flavor for an international soda. Primarily for that reason, I picked up a bottle. The product itself wasn't terribly impressive: not particularly evocative of a pomelo's flavor, and marked by the slight sugary sliminess of regular Sprite. But at the very least, it had me thinking about the intersections between consumerism and globalization. On one hand, the fact that this Sprite is pomelo flavored is a comforting sign that even in the face of international trends and dictates of taste, regional communities are able to assert their own tastes to the degree that an international corporation would develop a unique product as a response. On the other hand, is this just a clever tactic for an international corporation to expand its global economic territory?


Prêt à Voyager said...

Or a plot by dentists to rot peoples teeth? ;) . . . Although I'm not sure how big dentistry is in that part of the world.


Tim said...

How interesting; do you happen to know if those characters written across the pomelo (柚子) say "pomelo"? Because if they do, that's the same characters the Japanese use for yuzu, a totally different citrus fruit.

Inarticulate Fumblings said...

Know I've been MIA and that this comment has nothing to do with your posting... but... in case you're interested, our travel blog is up and running while we're away. Peace - IF


annamatic said...

in this day and age, it's hard for a global company to survive if it DOESN'T take into account local tastes from their regional markets around the world.

Hence bulgogi burgers at McD's in Korea.

or ALL those KitKat flavors in Japan!http://www.flickr.com/groups/702674@N23/pool/

I like it, it keeps things interesting. But that said, these corporate adaptations are never very yummy and usually not much of a danger for wiping out the local street snacks...

Heather Moore said...

Oh, interesting (and, as with all your posts, beautifully shot too). Did you know that the Afrikaans word for Grapefruit is Pomelo? Another intriguing SE asian infusion into that language (eg: Piesang for banana, Blatjang for Chutney - both words from Malaysia).

Loving your posts about taiwan. Will direct my brother to your site, as their year in Taiwan sounded like culinary hell!

我愛吃柚子 said...

Tim, Yes that is the word for Pomelo and it sounds very similar to Japanese when pronounced in Chinese, You Zi.
One thing I wanted to mention about this fruit is that there are a couple of different kinds. One has a red or pink flesh (西施) and another has a white flesh (白柚). Apparently they are sweetest in January.

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