JAZZINN - Yes, this Japanese tea soda is the best drink in the world

A rainy night. A man and a woman sit in a car. The man, wordless and mostly unseen, drinks from a bottle. Jazz plays in the background.

Varying shots of the man drinking play across the screen. Only the sounds of rain, music, and swallowing. In a lilting Osaka dialect (think American Southern accent), the woman speaks in a voice over.

Ah. I’m parched. Can I have some JAZZINN. Come on. Give me one sip. You’re such a cheapskate.

The woman glares face forward into the camera. Her left eye-brow rises and rises.1

The commercial closes with an announcement by a male voice in a strange faux non-Japanese accent.2

A delicious adult beverage for everyone. Now on sale.

This was from the 1990 commercial for the launch of JAZZINN, a tea soda beverage produced by Pepsi Inc. Japan for an all too brief three years. I was a teenager living on a naval base in southern Japan when I discovered it. I can’t specifically remember my first taste but I loved it right away. And I remember the adult feeling it gave me with its slightly sweet, slightly bitter flavor. I loved the off red can, the cheesy English copy (below), and the big JAZZINN and 350 (for 350ml) printed on the can. I searched for it at convenient stores, supermarkets, and in vending machines. It wasn’t a secret but it was my hidden portal into a world that was less childish than the world of cokes and juice. The copy gets it right. It had an adult taste- whatever that means. It tasted of tea but it was a soda. It was mysterious and irresistibly satisfying. If it went back on sale I’d make a mad dash to the nearest place selling it. At the same time, I’d be afraid to drink it and be disappointed. The memory is a ghost but such a delicious ghost. That’s probably how it should remain. RIP JAZZINN 1990-1993

JAZZINN: THE NEW SOFT DRINK WITH THE ADULT TASTE. YOU'LL BE SURPRISED AT THE UNIQUE COMBINATION OF BLACK TEA AND CARBONATION. AND, THE LESS SWEET, LONG-LASTING FLAVOR OF CAREFULLY SELECTED INDIAN TEA LEAVES IS IRRESISTIBLY SATISFYING. YOU ALWAYS FIND IT JUST WITH YOU. JAZZINN: IT'S THE WHOLE NEW KIND OF SOFT DRINK.

  1. Natsuki Mari is a Japanese actress and singer. She voiced Yubaba in Spirited Away and played Obaba in the manga-based table tennis cult classic movie Ping Pong. Interestingly, she uses a Kansai dialect in the commercial, even though she was born and raised in the Tokyo area. I think her accent is pretty good but would have to ask a Kansai native to be sure. ↩︎
  2. Japanese sometimes use a fake foreign accent to make something seem more exotic or cool, or to micro-aggressively mock foreigners speaking Japanese who often do not even realize they’re being mocked. ↩︎