While shopping with my friend at a local Korean grocer, we came across a fridge full of soft drinks that suddenly reminded him of his childhood. In the midst of his nostalgia I asked him to pick out five of the most common drinks he had as a child in Korea, and the list below is what he came up with. Consequently, most of them are drinks that are popular for kids, but I thought these might offer another interesting look into Korean culture – and they should all be available in Canada, at your local Korean supermarket.
Hopefully his selections may also be relatable to some of you!
While you may be unfamiliar with Paldo as a brand, you are probably familiar with the drink they make. They sell sikhye in a can. This is a sweet, traditional Korean drink made with rice/barley. (He described the taste as “nostalgic.”) There are actual grains of rice at the bottom, so it’s best to shake it first. I found that it has a kind of unique, earthy sweetness to it. While you can technically have it at any time of year, sikhye is usually consumed on Korean holidays, such as New Year and Chuseok (the Harvest Festival).
This refreshing grape drink is called Bong Bong. It’s very sweet, and the flavour is said to be similar to the Kyoho grapes found in Korea – I personally found it similar to the green grapes my grandmother grows in her garden. But the highlight of this drink, by far, is the real grapes inside! It surprised me the first time I tried this, but they’re chewy and amazing. Bong Bong is definitely a thirst-quencher, and fun to drink! (Could be very addictive…)
This Strawberry Flavoured Milk Drink tastes like your average, run-of-the-mill strawberry milk – I initially made the connection to strawberry flavoured Melona and my Korean friend agreed that it tastes almost identical (if you’re not familiar with Asian desserts, Melona is essentially an ice cream popsicle and comes in a variety of flavours). Similar to the strawberry milk you can find in Canadian grocery stores, if you’d rather not look for this foreign alternative, however there is an image of strawberry Yakult on the front of the box, so if you’re a fan of that popular sweet milk, you’ll probably enjoy this.
This Refreshing Water 2% is Peach flavoured, but there are many other flavours available. It looks just like water, but believe me – it literally tastes like you’re drinking liquid peach. The amount of flavour is insane. Although I’m not sure what the “2%” is supposed to symbolize (online opinions are conflicting), it is generally quite refreshing – as indicated by the name – and is without a doubt, a great summer drink. We do have similar ‘flavoured water’ drinks made in Canada/America, but the flavour in this drink tastes much less diluted.
Milkis was the drink he claimed to have had most as a kid. I found the taste similar to a creamsicle – it’s very sweet, and comes in a variety of flavours. And although it looks kind of like watered-down milk, it’s actually carbonated! It’s like a fizzy…milky…yogurt-y drink. I can see how it would be popular with children, but I enjoyed it too! It’s very refreshing, and could almost act as a dessert after a meal, I’d say.
Let me know if there are any other drinks that you may have had in your childhood, I’d love to try more! And if you’ve had any of these – which was your favourite?