Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Serendipity & Ramune…

by Eric Carlson, CPP - Chainalytics

Coincidence can be a great opportunity to learn. My son Jack is taking Mandarin in high school and came home from a China Day field trip with a few unusual looking bottles of carbonated beverages. As a packaging engineer, I was immediately interested in the odd shape and unusual opening. Jack could not wait to show me how the bottle opened and proceeded to punch a marble through the top and INTO the bottle only to be captured in the narrowed neck. I could not wait to dissect the opening to learn more about this bottle and found that the marble stays in the top by a slight interference fit, but the seal is maintained by the internal pressure of the drink’s carbonation. I was determined to learn more about this, but was scheduled to go to an ASTM meeting the next day.

The next night I found myself downtown in Vancouver, BC surrounded by hundreds of Japanese restaurants, so I walked to a self described Japanese Tapas restaurant (I know … Tapas is NOT Japanese in origin). Enclosed in the menu was a paper describing a fundraising effort in which the restaurant was partnering with the makers of Ramune – a Japanese soda – and a picture of the bottle I just saw the day before! I looked around and saw that many of the tables had ordered Ramune to drink. Apparently this is a decidedly popular drink (outside the US anyway) and as a packaging geek, I was inspired to research more about the Ramune bottle.

A Google search returned Wikipedia as the first hit for Ramune. Wikipedia had a pretty complete description of the history of the name Ramune, the bottle design, the original designer & usages.

Ramune is a Japanese carbonated beverage (original flavor is lemon or lemon-lime) and the name is apparently a phonetic mashup from the English lemonade. Wikipedia indicates that Ramune was popular with the Japanese Imperial Navy before WWII. Many flavors and producers are currently marketing soda generically known as Ramune.

The Codd-Neck Bottle
The bottle was designed in England by Hiram Codd with a patent dated 1876. The distinctive Codd-neck bottle was designed for the fizzy drink market. The bottle was quickly adopted by the brewing & fizzy drink industries with strong market presence in EU & Asia. The bottles were originally filled upside down. Until recently drinking from the Codd-neck bottle was a little tricky. A new pinched in feature was incorporated to hold the marble away from the bottle opening for easier pouring & drinking.

To open a bottle of Ramune, there are a couple of techniques; slow steady pressure (not easy for kids) or the wallop. Of the many etymological roots of codswallop, one apparently comes from opening a Codd-neck bottle of beer. And considering that wallop is a 19th century slang for beer, and so it seems fitting that a walloping a Codd-neck bottle of beer could become codswallop.

Jack Shows how to open the bottles


1 comment:

  1. The Ramun Drink is better ....... I tried the other one and it was disguising and plus the top opens what is the fun of that I love breaking the Ramune drink and getting the marble.


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