What Is Ramune?

What’s that soda with the marble in it? It’s Ramune! But what is Ramune? Well, Ramune is one of Japan’s most popular genres of carbonated beverages. That’s a broad start, but the full story of this soda is as complicated as the bottle it comes in. If you’re asking yourself how to pronounce Ramune, you aren’t alone. Rah-moo-neigh is actually derived from the English word “lemonade,” which would make total sense if this was a simple bottled lemonade. If only it was that easy. Here’s everything you need to know about Ramune.

Where did Ramune come from? Why does Ramune have a marble?

Despite being widely known as the Japanese soda, the story of how Ramune came to be is surprisingly international. Ramune’s unique bottle design was invented in 1872 by British engineer Hiram Codd. Codd used a marble in the neck of his new bottle to better seal in carbonation (or other industrial gases). While spending time in a foreigner-friendly settlement in Japan in 1884, Scottish pharmacist Alexander Cameron Sim (what’s with pharmacists and inventing sodas?) used these “Codd-neck” bottles for his new carbonated drink based on lemonade. This proto-Ramune first found success when a Japanese newspaper advertised it as something that could…prevent cholera? Unsurprisingly, I was not able to track down a study confirming this claim.

How do I open a bottle of Ramune?

Over my two decades of anime convention experience, I have seen dozens of people struggle with how to open a Ramune bottle. I can’t blame them; most of us aren’t used to reading instructions to open a soda. That said, if you’ve got a bottle of Ramune in front of you right now, there’s a good chance that a small plastic wrapper on the top of the bottle has illustrated the steps to open it. If you’ve already shredded that wrapper out of blind confidence, we’ll go through the steps here.

  1. Remove any wrappers found on the top of the bottle, separating a small plastic shape from the bottle itself.
  2. Separate the center of the plastic shape from the outer edge; discard the outer edge.
  3. Set the bottle on a sturdy flat surface and hold the base of the bottle firmly. I cannot stress this enough.
  4. Place the center of the plastic bottle topper, stem side down, on top of the marble lodged in the bottle’s mouth.
  5. Press down on the plastic bottle topper until the marble “pops” further down the neck.
  6. Enjoy!

What does Ramune taste like?

“Original” Ramune is a carbonated lemon-lime soda. That original Ramune flavor is so popular that McDonald’s Japan released a Ramune-flavored milkshake back in 2020! But asking, “What flavor is Ramune?” is a little tricky because, as popular as the original flavor is, there have been dozens of supplementary flavors over Ramune’s 160-year history. Frequent flavors include cola, bubble gum, cream soda, and… basically every single fruit. One of the most prolific Ramune producers has even released savory Ramune sodas based on takoyaki, Japanese curry, kimchi, chili oil, cream stew, and more.

About the Author

Griffin Parker

Griffin Parker is a writer, award-winning charity auctioneer, and "influencer in the beverage space" according to a few PR agencies. Please do not ask him about the cotton candy business he started right out of high school. When he's not contributing to Sporked or running the @SodaSeekers news pages, you can find Griffin espousing the virtues of Dayton-style pizza, Cincinnati-style chili, and Dolly Parton's Fabulously Fudgy Brownie Mix.

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