Sweet, sweet can
January 27, 2003 2:03 AM   Subscribe

Whither Sarsi? How come it's so dang hard to find Web sites on my favorite soft drink from the Phillipines, the "sarsaparilla from Manila"? Why does the bottling concern say so very, very little about the delectable syrup with the "distinctive Filipino taste."? It has its partisans (none so fervent as this fellow) and its detractors, but nary an official site. What gives?
posted by adamgreenfield (18 comments total)
There's a www.sarsi.com.my.
It's just one big flash animation, though.
posted by chrismear at 3:54 AM on January 27, 2003

That site looks worryingly sexual. And not in a good way either.
posted by ed\26h at 4:45 AM on January 27, 2003

The site chrismear linked to does seem to be the official site, which, if you click on the subscribe link, seems to still be in the process of being built. It's hard to tell, since there are no yellow and black triangular shaped signs with silhouettes of men with hard hats and shovels in their hands and a big flashing sign that says "Under Construction" with a few exclamation points after it. They really need a few of those.
posted by iconomy at 5:02 AM on January 27, 2003

Curioser and curioser: weirdly enough, that's not Sarsi. I don't know what it is, but it ain't Sarsi.
posted by adamgreenfield at 5:28 AM on January 27, 2003

"Feel the crackle..."

I feel a sig file coming on.

Seriously, who thinks up these slogans? I know this is probably wandering into the territory of Engrish, but it seemed to be relatively with it.

posted by twine42 at 6:00 AM on January 27, 2003

I used to drink Sarsi by the gallon growing up in Manila. Cosmos Bottling would proudly advertise it as a local alternative to imported foreign softdrinks (sort of like Mecca Cola), but they could never corner more than a niche market in a culture where people chug Coke like water.

Sarsi and its sister softdrinks regularly go through spasmic surges of popularity, often lying low for years before a sudden revival rockets them back onto TV screens and cafeteria fridges. The high usually lasts a year or two, then gradually dies back down to niche market level for as much as a decade before the next wave hits. I've lived through about three Sarsi Waves and two bottle redesigns. Sometimes you can still pull an old 1980's Sarsi bottle out of the cooler if you're lucky. Hooray refunds.

I miss Sarsi too. Just wait a few years; it'll be back.
posted by brownpau at 6:44 AM on January 27, 2003

calamansi juice is another top phillippino refreshing beverage, which i can reccomend.
maybe it would be sufficient for the interim?
posted by asok at 7:33 AM on January 27, 2003

I had Sarsi once or twice when I lived in the Phils. At the time I thought it tasted like utter shite. I'd probably like it better today, if I still drank pop.

Just to clarify brownpau's post: Coke, Pepsi and other soft drinks are available, but are bottled locally (they are not imported - although it's possible the syrup base still comes from the US). A lot of people I knew swore that the various local varieties of US pop tasted different from their US counterparts, although I could never tell. And in a lot of places we went it was told to us that drinking soft drinks (and San Miguel beer - mmmm!) was a better idea than anything made with local water, since the manufacturers filtered and purified their water. I don't know how true it was.

And yes, calamansi juice is great, but I think that its nature (much like that of lemonade) makes it less likely to be a good canned or bottled drink. And making the stuff yourself is a pain - the fruit is about the size of a cherry tomato and takes a lot of the little buggers to get a pitcher of juice.
posted by deadcowdan at 8:55 AM on January 27, 2003

the curves give it away:( but yeah, "mabuhay!" just the same.
posted by azul at 9:46 AM on January 27, 2003

Wow... So many Sarsiophiles in one place. This has to be a record. I for one can't stand the stuff, but it does have nostalgic value for me. I remember, when I first moved to Malaysia, looking for a can of root beer and having someone tell me that "Sarsi" was pretty much root beer. I've never seen anyone launch a soft drink out of their mouth for so much distance as I did upon first taste ever before. That stuff was vile.
posted by dazed_one at 10:52 AM on January 27, 2003

Well, just like stewed duck eggs and marinated pig snout, it's an acquired taste.
posted by brownpau at 11:03 AM on January 27, 2003

looking for a can of root beer and having someone tell me that "Sarsi" was pretty much root beer

This is exactly what happened to me (except for the violent liquid launch). I couldn't believe anyone thought that someone looking for RB would be happy with a Sarsi. It's like giving someone hot water mixed with soy sauce and telling them it's coffee.
posted by deadcowdan at 11:08 AM on January 27, 2003

deadcow: good analogy. Now mixing water and soy sauce and saying that it's similar to Sarsi is rather more accurate, though.
posted by dazed_one at 11:34 AM on January 27, 2003

deadcowdan, your friends aren't necessarily imagining things. Coca cola and other international brands are often slightly different worldwide. In particular, soda in the US is usually made with corn syrup, a refined sugar which is cheaper than can sugar. In contrast, Europe and some other places where sugar is cheaper still use cane or beet sugar. I haven't located it yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Phillipines is one of those areas.
posted by whatzit at 3:27 PM on January 27, 2003

Well, just like stewed duck eggs and marinated pig snout, it's an acquired taste.

Never tried the pig snout but the duck eggs were a treat!

Another acquired taste in South East Asia is durian. Delicious but you don't want one of them in your car or condo for too long...

P.S. Anyone know where Sarsi, duck eggs and South East Asian fruit can be found for *reasonable* prices in Tokyo? The prices the depa-chika charge for Asian fruit and delicacies is criminal.
posted by cup at 6:05 PM on January 27, 2003

Durian is excellent, if you can get past the smell. Just don't drink it with beer (or any other alcohol). The combination, I have heard, can be deadly. Never had the guts to try the two together myself.
posted by dazed_one at 6:13 PM on January 27, 2003

mmm...durian is good. I once read an article which compared eating durian to eating onion-laced vanilla custard in a latrine. Just don't bring it on airplanes.

Now I just want to track down some dragon fruit...
posted by Vidiot at 8:41 PM on January 27, 2003

Or mangosteins. Heaven.
posted by dazed_one at 12:32 AM on January 28, 2003

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