Gluttony with Mary HK Choi: Milkis & Calpico

HEH KITTEHPepsi has just announced their new limited-edition flavor: Azuki! Which is red bean. Which, unless you’re all, “I CAN HAZ CHEESEBURGER?” at every non-white people restaurant, you’ll know is considered a sweet in Asia. We add a gang of sugar to the legume (LIKE ANIMALS) and eat it in desserts like popsicles, donuts, and cheesecake (LIKE ANIMALS). [Random sidebar: Koreans also treat tomatoes like a fruit and toss ’em in ice cream sundaes like cherries. I fully consider this to be some hardcore, mayonnaise-on-your-pizza, confounding freakshow stuff. ANIMALS.]

But considering that Asian Pepsi gets adventurous with their marquee beverage, akin to how the Nippons get down with Kit Kats (domo arigato pumpkin and green tea Kit Kats *Boooooow*), it reminds me, once again, how the golden, golden, ASIAN cream rises to the top when it comes to flavoring sundries of a prepackaged snackfoodish nature.

Which finally brings me to my point: What does the United States have against soft drinks containing dairy when the rest of the world luhs ’em?

When Pepsi White came out, that third reich-sounding mixture of soda and yogurt, people claimed that this was unnatural to the “western” palate despite beverages like Calpico, Milkis, and Yakult not only existing for decades in Asia but being huge in Scandinavian countries, Russia (even though I guess that’s like, northern), and only kinda-Asian places like Hawaii.

“Calpico” gets ragged on because it’s sorta the “Toby” to “Calpis'” “Kunta” and cause Calpis reminds everyone of cow piss which actually reminds me of this one gross-sounding Hindu tipple that actually hopes to subsume the sacred bovine urea, but how do folks who eat (drink?) coke floats and orange creamsicles get grossed out by dairy in this iteration?

Milkis and Calpico are NOT carbonated. I think this is a critical distinction to make since there is something understandably gaggish about poutine particles effervescing around. And you’re supposed to drink it really cold. AND despite hubrissy people who feel the need to pigeonhole it into west-centric terms like, “tastes like cream soda,” it doesn’t. At all. It is far pointier tasting.

We’ve all at least tried Pinkberry/Yogo Monster/Red Mango and been consummately gouged (in the butt) by the hefty price tag. And these drinks, available at any Asian grocery store like H Mart, taste most like the aforementioned tart, refreshing, completely addictive fro-yo and contains live active cultures (I know, I left that bit out ’cause it’s gnarly and I want you guys to try this stuff).

Most importantly, it’s fantastic with vodka and you can wander around with a great chalice of it and feel like the Dude which is a good idea for job interviews.