So here the thing. Everyone we’ve ever talked to who has either gone to or lived in New Zealand, loves New Zealand. Do you know how far New Zealand is from virtually anything? 1,200 miles – 4 million residents on two tiny islands.
Ok, yes Peter Jackson and Lord of the Rings. Fine, it has that.
It also apparently has L & P, or Lemon & Paeroa, a soft drink made WITH lemon IN Paeroa, a tiny town of less than 4,000 in the northern corner of the northern island. Or at least it’s made with mineral waters from Paeroa.
Our friend Jill is a big fan of New Zealand, and she’s a bigger fan of L & P. Somehow, she managed to smuggle a can of this stuff to the states and we were thrilled when it got to our greedy little hands. Why? Because you just can’t get it here. It’s famous tag line “World famous in New Zealand” is about right.
We actually had a hard time finding any solid facts about the company. Usually, when it comes to South American or Asian companies, their websites are encyclopedias of history about the company, they just write and write and write. Not so with L & P. Then, our a-ha moment! L & P is owned by… drum roll please… Coca-Cola! And you know Coca Cola doesn’t want you knowing what going on inside the company.
Still, the website is very funny – it’s basically an Onion-esque tourism site promoting the town of Paeroa, and includes a series of videos where a chubby spokesman and clueless mascot walk you through Paeroa’s fascinating history, including two bridges, a truck on a roof and bench henge!
Beautiful and mysterious Bench Henge in Paeroa! Check out the official website here: http://tourismpaeroa.co.nz/
Anyway, to the drink itself. We’re not sure what the rules are regarding labelling in New Zealand, but we were amused to discover that the nutritional information on the back of the can reveals that a can contains 158 calories of energy!
Sugar and sodium content is about equal to a can of coke, but it was lemon part of the L & P we had some trouble with. The company claims it has a secret ingredient and that must be the lemon because there’s no mention of it in any ingredients. We supposed the single word “flavour” in the ingredients must have been the lemon.
And all things being equal, this may be a case of Coca Cola just not wanted one of its own properties to compete with Coke. We know everybody in the Land of the Long White Cloud loves this stuff, but it was just awful.
(We’re sooooo sorry Jilly! We still love you!)
From the moment the can is popped open the mediciny smell is quite strong. The lemon “flavour” is flat and tastes like maybe one of those lemon juice squirters might taste if left on a windowsill in the heat. It was like putting lemon cough drops in carbonated water and adding sugar cubes. Even ice cold, right out of the fridge, the drink leaves an aftertaste. Dan even saturated his glass with ice in an attempt to water down taste. The result made it drinkable at least.
There’s a reason Coca Cola is an international superpower when it comes to soft drinks. And it seems like it’s trying to keep things that way!