I almost passed up this bottle of Mizuho Melon Flavor Ramune, but then I noticed that it was telling me to give it a try. Right there on the label was the clear and convincing command: “Enjoy POP Soda!!” Since I’m psychologically programmed to obey the orders of all strange snacks, I had no choice but to purchase this pop.
Upon closer inspection, the most unusual aspect of this demanding drink was the baffling bottle in which it arrived. The label included a 55-word essay on the proper method for opening the beverage, along with seven dire warnings about this risky ramune. I soon began to suspect that this bottle, and its persuasively punctuated slogan, was in fact a plot by the Vast Soursop Conspiracy to inflict harm on agents of the Federal Bureau of Foreign Culinary Relations.
Instead of a traditional bottle cap, this strange soda is confined in its container by a glass marble inside of a plastic neck. This is known as a “Codd stopper” after Hiram Codd, who invented this in 1872. The bottle is filled upside-down, after which the marble falls into place and forms a seal thanks to the pressure of the carbonated beverage.
To open the drink, it’s necessary to push the marble out of the neck and down into the bottle. With Mizuho Melon Flavor Ramune, the necessary tool is helpfully included right on top of the package. All you have to do is disassemble the cap to remove the opener, place the opener in the neck of the bottle, and press down. Be sure to hold the opener in the neck for five seconds, or else the contents of the bottle might escape. Once that’s done, carefully drink the soda, but don’t tip the bottle up too far. If you do that, the marble will clog the neck and you’ll be left with a frustrating fizz experience. If you look carefully at the bottle, you can see an indentation which prevents the marble from falling all the way to the bottom.
While the Codd stopper was a revolutionary idea in its time, it isn’t a common sight among modern fizzy drinks. As a result, it requires several warnings:
- “Please ask an adult to open the bottle.” I’m pretty sure kids in 1872 would have been able to open this bottle without losing more than one eye. In 2012, apparently not so much.
- “Parental supervision is advised for small children.” In 1872, parental supervision was advised for firearms larger than .22 caliber. In 2012, supervision is also needed for consuming soft drinks.
- “Do not try to remove the marble from the bottle to avoid an injury.” In 1872, these bottles were the primary source of marbles. It was the toy surprise, sort of like the temporary tattoos of the 21st century, except getting this toy out required handling broken glass.
- “Do not place the cap opener or marble in your mouth.” In 1872, this warning fell under the category of “natural selection”.
- “Do not store this product in the freezer or expose to high temperature.” In 1872, they didn’t have freezers, so I can give them this. But I’m starting to wonder what this green stuff really is, since bad things happen when it gets too cold or too hot.
- “Do not drink if the seal is broken.” In 1872, no one would have dreamed of contaminating a bottle of ramune.
- “Do not drink if the marble or bottle is damaged.” In 1872, I don’t think anyone had to be told that it was a bad idea to swallow broken glass. This says a great deal about 2012.
Fortunately, the Armenian Fungus Cake team heeded all of the warnings and narrowly survived the encounter with Mizuho Melon Flavor Ramune (take that, Vast Soursop Conspiracy!). The ramune itself tasted as green as it looked, and this flavor did seem to hint at some sort of generic melon. While the soda was unremarkable, this was a very valuable lesson in how to cope with confusing Codd containers. These skills will surely come in handy when dealing with future bubbly beverages.
In case you’re wondering just what “ramune” is, it’s a Japanese word for soda that comes in a Codd bottle. It’s a loan word from English, which is derived from a phonetic pronunciation of “lemonade”. No angry letters, please. That’s really where the word comes from.