Pepsi Ice Cucumber
Junji Kurokawa  /  AP
Bottles of Pepsi Ice Cucumber are seen on display at a convenience store in Tokyo this week. Japanese are staying cool as a cucumber this summer with the new garden-variety soda.
By Brian Tracey Associate editor
msnbc.com
COMMENTARY

As the summer begins to sizzle, we can think of no better way to slake our thirst than with a icy cold carbonated beverage. And if you're in Japan, now you can keep cool with a cucumber-flavored soda.

"Pepsi Ice Cucumber" hit the stores this week, but it doesn't actually have any of the green gourd in it. Instead it has been artificially flavored to resemble "the refreshing taste of a fresh cucumber," said Aya Takemoto, spokeswoman of Japan's Pepsi distributor, Suntory Ltd.

"We wanted a flavor that makes people think of keeping cool in the summer heat," Takemoto said. "We thought the cucumber was just perfect."

The mint-colored soda is on sale just for the summer and only in Japan, Takemoto said. She said initial sales were brisk, and Suntory aims to sell 200,000 cases over the next three months.

We think Pepsi's rivals should retaliate with Spinach Sprite and Dr Bell Pepper so we can skip the salad bar entirely and get all that green goodness in liquid form.

Not-so-bad ideas

  • Here's something we think would go great with any garden-variety soda: Burger behemoth McDonald's will launch a new fresh salmon wrap in Norway later this summer to satisfy what they see as increasing demand from consumers for healthy food.

Apparently the company isn't worried about demand outstripping supply, as the Nordic nation is the world's biggest salmon exporter.

"It's local, it's Norwegian and something we are proud to be launching, and it fits into the trend that people want to eat more healthily," said Margaret Brusletto, spokeswoman for McDonald's Norwegian subsidiary.

Plans call for the product to be sold only at the 67 McDonald's restaurants in Norway, but the fast-food chain's partner Marine Harvest, the world's biggest salmon farmer, hopes it will catch on internationally.

The product may succeed, but only if it comes with Special Tartar Sauce.

  • Completing this week's summer-fare trifecta: Hoping to spice up their business, German butchers have introduced a new line of exotic-tasting sausages with flavors including kiwi, maraschino cherry, lemon and aloe vera.

The wide variety of new ingredients may seem like heresy to what is for many ordinary Germans the national dish. But butchers are hoping the flavors can inject new life into a market dominated by the greasy bratwurst you can find on almost any street corner.

Berlin butcher Uwe Buenger has developed a "chili-honey" bratwurst while rival Dankert has come up with a "kiwi wurst" that also includes pineapples and maraschino cherries, Bild newspaper reported this week.

For sausage connoisseurs, there is also "truffle-bratwurst" that includes the fancy fungus spiced with black and white pepper. Other sausages in Berlin are made of lamb, ginger and even edible flowers.

So next time you NASCAR fans are tailgating at a race, don't be surprised if you hear someone yell out: "Pansy brat, anyone?"

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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