Unique Drinks You Must Try in Korean Convenience Stores

A typical Korean convenience store offers a wide range of products for us. There isn’t much you can’t find in Korean convenience stores especially when it comes to snacks and drinks! For those who want to try something you can find only in Korea, I will introduce three unique drinks you can commonly see in any convenience store nearby.

 

  1. 아침햇살 (Achimhaetsal)

Source: Woongjin Food, Co.

아침햇살 (translated as “morning rice”) is a drink made of three different types of Korean rice (white, brown and black rice). I recently found out that this drink tastes much like sweetened almond milk! If you’re a fan of Almond Breeze like me, you will instantly fall in love with this drink.

아침햇살 was a big sensation when it first came out in 1999. A non-alcohol drink made of rice was totally new even in a country where one person consumes more than 90kg of rice each year. It was promoted as a healthy drink that “makes your stomach comfortable,” and its main marketing point was on the fact that 아침햇살 only uses Korean rice, not imports from other countries.

Take a look at a commercial aired back then. It emphasized that a total of 19 million kilograms of rice was used to produce 아침햇살.

https://youtu.be/f2UIPZbT8es

With an active marketing strategy of Woongjin Foods Co., 아침햇살 earned nation-wide popularity. Although it gradually lost its popularity over time, it still remains in the market as one of the most well-known drinks in Korea. Ask anyone on campus whether she/he knows 아침햇살! I bet you’ll get a ‘yes’ every time you ask.

 

  1. 맥콜(McCol)

I’ll be honest with you. 맥콜 is definitely not a popular drink among Koreans. In fact, usual reactions on 맥콜 lie in extremes of love and hate; either you’re a big 맥콜 fan or you’re a hater. This is because 맥콜 can be explained by no other words than bizarre.

Source: Ilhwa

맥콜 is a fizzy drink made of barley. As strange as it sounds, it was a huge success when it came out in 1987. 맥콜 turned over 90 billion won(approximately 78 million US dollars) in the same year. Soon competitors started to pour out, pushing 맥콜 out of market for a long time until the market itself for barley drinks diminished. Ironically, 맥콜 was the only brand that survived. From 2 billion won in 1998, 맥콜 recovered its legacy by raising its sales to 20 billion Won in 2011.

Here’s another confession though. I myself had never tried 맥콜 until today. More accurately, my first encounter of 맥콜 was when I had finished writing the previous paragraph. Now that I’ve officially tasted 맥콜 I can say that it’s not that bad at all! It has a surprising resemblance to Dr.Pepper(probably my favorite soft drink of all), except that it’s less fizzy. If you like Dr.Pepper you don’t have to be afraid of 맥콜’s notorious reputation. Go ahead and try!

One last thing about 맥콜; it recently drew lots of attention online because of its unexpectedly high percentage of vitamin C. Compared to Vitamin Water, a popular vitamin drink you can find in convenience stores, 맥콜 contains about twice as high vitamin C. That’s another plus for 맥콜, isn’t it?

 

  1. 포도봉봉(Grape Bong-bong)

Its name says everything about this drink; it’s a grape juice. But it’s no ordinary grape juice because it actually has grapes-I mean real grapes-in it.

Source: Hattae HTB

It’s not that easy to find someone who doesn’t like this drink! Or at least I thought so. I mean, who doesn’t like muscat grapes? 포도 봉봉 has a long history since 1981 and unlike the other two drinks I introduced earlier, it never had any ups and downs. It has always been a steady seller in Korea.

It never struck me before though, that some foreigners find the texture of grapes in 포도 봉봉 unpleasant. In this video produced by Josh Carrot, a British youtuber who produces contents about Korean culture, people show conflicting reactions towards 포도 봉봉 before and after they try it. Most of them seem to like the drink until they encounter the grapes.

https://youtu.be/xwKVuFGOV7c

Quoting from the people starring in the video, here are some expressions used to describe the grapes in 포도 봉봉:

“Sludge”

“Lots of snots and lots of bogies”

“Phlegm blob”

Definitely not appetizing, but it sure does stimulate your curiosity right? All I can tell you is that it never hurts to try! Other than the grapes, it’s just an ordinary muscat drink you see anywhere.

 

Article by Jieun from Korea, a Senior in Business Administration

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