The Many Colors of Fanta in Belize and A History You Might Not Have Imagined
Fanta is a critical part of my day to day life in Belize – much like these products that I never used in the states. Today it is a product of the Coca-Cola company and those products, Coke, Coke Light, Sprite and Fanta are bottled in Belize by Bowen & Bowen Ltd. The company that produces Belikin beer. And it is for sale at every single supermarket in the country.
In the US, Fanta (at least where I was from) was always sold at Latino markets and in Latino neighborhoods. Unlike sodas like Pepsi, Coke, Mountain Dew, 7-Up, Sunkist Orange…it wasn’t at the stores of my childhood. I think I only became aware of it when they started the “Wanna Fanta” commercials with their spokes-singers and dancers, The Fantanas.
Says Wikipedia: According to the Fantanas’s website, they lived on Fantana Island and were accidentally discovered by an entertainment mogul named Sir Juan-Carlos Martinez after he fell off his yacht and was washed ashore on that island, seeing their work.
Awesome. Here’s one of the old CATCHY commercials.
But Fanta’s origins are not in the Latin world at all. In fact, they are in…super strangely…Nazi Germany. Where it was invented when they were cut off from importing American-made Coca Cola.
The head of Coca-Cola Deutschland “decided to create a new product for the German market, using only ingredients available in Germany at the time, including whey and apple pomace – the “leftovers of leftovers”. It was named after the word “fantasie” in German. (All Wikipedia.) For more information on the connection, check out this uber-interesting articles.
It was discontinued when the war was over and German Coca-Cola reunited with the parent company but then re-introduced in the 50s when Pepsi amped up the competition.
It is now produced in over 90 countries. And in 100 flavors – Japan, as usual, takes things to the NEXT level.
Here in Belize, we have 8 flavors. All packaged in the same re-useable GLASS bottles – all with different color bottle caps.
I LOVE drinking soda from a glass bottle. Just be sure to wipe the mouth. Because the bottles are cleaned and re-used, the older caps can leave a bit of a rust mark around the outer edge.
Light blue: soda water, Pink: tonic, Green: Ginger Ale, Brown: Rootbeer, Orange: orange, Yellow: Pineapple, Purple: Grape. Red: Fruit Punch
All in line, they look beautiful. But, though, I drink tons of soda water and have been known to drink an Orange Fanta, iced cold, about five times a year, I really hadn’t tried the others. Now was the time. And I enlisted a mystery taster, a chef in San Pedro, to help me judge.
We had 8 bottles, index cards and one rule. Since neither of us are regular (sugar-ed) soda drinkers, the word SWEET was not allowed. The object: the write three words or short phrases to describe the flavor.
We started with PINK TONIC – tinted pink so that it is distinguishable from soda water by bartenders – who are grabbing them quickly to make drinks. It was deemed by the MT (Mystery Taster) to be best in class: Bitterlicious. I agreed. Bitter, refreshing and prickly.
It’s great with rum and lime. And makes a beautiful mixed drink.
GREEN GINGER ALE: My favorite but we both agreed, a pretty weak ginger ale by ginger ale or beer standards. MT asked “Helllloooo? Ginger…are ya there?” It is my favorite of the bunch. Light – a good guzzler.
BROWN ROOTBEER: While I thought it is classic while very sugary, MT’s three phrases were “cavity, hello Dentist and burp”.
ORANGE: Orange is a amped up (sugar-wise) version of your childhood orange soda…and a crazy thirst quencher when you are BEYOND PARCHED. It’s like heaven when you are fresh out of the water after snorkeling. MT disagreed: “Vitamin C-sick, poor man’s Tang and headache”.
YELLOW PINEAPPLE: This one made me wonder…were we drinking concentrates? Were these supposed to be watered down? This bubble gum, perfume-y, Hawaiian, dayglow fizz was not liked by either tester. MT called it “Runts Mouthwash” after the sweet little fruit flavored.
PURPLE GRAPE: This one hits you like a purple punch and leaves you with an almost black tongue. FLAVORFUL! I though perhaps a cough syrup, MT called it “Fabuloso” and wrote “Oh good lord”. At this point, he was entering a sugar coma…and was begging for mercy. But we can’t stop now…the king of sugar kings!…
RED FRUIT PUNCH: We agreed that we had saved the worst for last. We wrote almost the same things on our cards: Cream soda? and cotton candy mouth. Shiver.
BLUE SODA WATER: It’s a light less salty seltzer, delicious and refreshing. Mix it with any fresh fruit juice…makes me wanna Fanta.
And I forgot one interesting myth/fact: it is thought that orange or red Fanta is a main ingredient in the uber-sweet ketchup they serve at the fast food/Chinese shops…that is slathered all over the fried chicken. Makes sense!
Man. That was intense. WHO SAID BLOGGING WAS EASY? I can only be glad that I DON’T LIVE in Japan (though my brother does…this gives me ideas) where they have flavors like La France, Mellow Muscat, Moo Moo White and Mystery Fruit.
Obviously, this is all subjective. I dare YOU to take the Fanta challenge and let me know what you think. Just make sure that you have a few hours afterwards to nurse your headache…