The World in Soda

Our taste buds can tell us a lot about ourselves. While giants like Pepsi and Coca-Cola still rule the worldwide soda market, smaller brands that represent local tastes have maintained their loyal followers for years in places like Switzerland and Barbados.

These sodas are generally not available outside of the country where they’re produced, and make fun, cheap souvenirs for friends and family if you’re coming back from a vacation. We’ve done a quick roundup of some of the world’s most elusive sodas, and where you can go to try these unique flavors.

Irn-Bru

One of Scotland’s most unusual innovations (and that’s saying something, considering they were one of the world’s foremost innovators during the Industrial Revolution) is a soda that’s known as Irn-Bru (pronounced Iron-brew). It was first manufactured in 1889 in New York, but the recipe was quickly copied by Scottish producer AG Barr & Co, and just 10 years later, they were reporting extremely high sales.

It’s colored a bright, vibrant orange, which is instantly recognizable to a true Scot, no matter where they are in the world. Even though there aren’t many other products in the Irn-Bru brand portfolio (Irn-Bru Sugar-Free is the only one that really took off), it remains the most popular soft drink in Scotland.

George Clerk / Getty Images

Calpis

Calpis is a unique, uncarbonated soft drink that’s popular in Japan. It was first sold in 1919 as a concentrated syrup that was mixed with either milk or water, but now it’s available pre-diluted and marketed under the name Calpis Water. The concept for the soda is based off a traditional Mongolian product known as ‘airag’, which is a drink that’s made using cultured milk and lactic acid. Although Calpis is most popular in Japan, it has been exported to North America, where you may have seen it under the name Calpico—many people thought that Calpis sounded too much like ‘cow piss’ for the North American market.

DigiPub / Getty Images

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