Milkis is a Korean soda that's made by Lotte, a local conglomerate. In some ways, it seems like Lotte owns Korea--there are as many Lotte Marts (which I would compare to Target and not Wal-Mart) in the cities here as there are Mormon churches in Provo, Utah. Lotte also owns an amusement park called Lotte World, two baseball teams, some major hotels, a chain of cinemas, etc. From any window in any apartment in any city in Korea, you could probably see something Lotte owns.
For me, what makes Korea seem even more Lotte-saturated is that edible goods made by Lotte aren't sold exclusively in Lotte Marts. In the states, stores like Wal-Mart, Smith's, and Target have their own food brands, sure, but you don't see Kroger products at the Flying J, right? Now, I'm no expert on how this works, but Lotte sells things with the Lotte name in every convenience store around here. Whether you're taking care of your snack attack in a 7-11, a GS25, or a Family Mart, you're gonna find Lotte snacks.
Lotte's ubiquity isn't even limited to Korea. In fact, the first time I had Milkis--which was also the first time I saw the Lotte brand--was in the states. More specifically, it was in a little Asian market that's attached to a Korean BBQ in Logan, Utah. I was there with Alex Erickson, my good friend and then-housemate. As much as I'd like to take credit for my personal discovery of Milkis, and tell you all that I found it while on a major snacking adventure, it was actually Alex that introduced me to Milkis. He had fallen for Milkis during his time in Sacramento, and was looking for a fix in Utah. Although I'm sure Alex--with his steel trap of a mind--could tell you for sure, I can't remember whether he had already bought Milkis at the place in Logan, or if we were there to see if they even stocked it. Either way, they did have Milkis, and so we bought some. This is what a can of Milkis looks like:
If you look closely at the picture above, you'll see a strangely-worded English sentence just beneath the strangely-rendered moon and strangely-airborne woman. The sentence says "new feeling of soda beverage" and Alex pointed it out to me with a chuckle while we brought our Milkis to the cashier.
Although I realize there's nothing intentionally deep behind the phrase "new feeling of soda beverage," I like to pretend that it's more than just a case of bad grammar. I like to think that the people marketing Milkis were so stunned by its taste that they simply couldn't say anything else. In this dream scenario, one of the marketing gurus trying to think of a slogan for Milkis was a fluent English speaker. He knew that stringing the words "new feeling of soda beverage" together was outside the lines of standard English grammar, but he also knew that nothing inside the lines would describe Milkis well enough. He knew that the nonsensical slogan made the most sense.
Milkis is a soda that straddles the line between the strange and the familiar. The classic soda elements are there: sugar, carbonated water...sugar. But the strangeness comes from the fact the "milk" part of the name Milkis probably wasn't chosen just because it sounds cute or something--powdered milk is an ingredient. This is what Milkis looks like:
I know you're thinking that Milkis just looks like watered-down milk, and you're not wrong--it really does! But calling Milkis "milk soda" wouldn't be fair at all. Sure, there is powdered milk in it. Sure, you could even call it milky or creamy. But simply adding carbonated water to milk would be disgusting, and Milkis is not disgusting. Surprisingly, Milkis doesn't even taste very much like milk. I have a hard time pinning down this Korean soda's flavor, but I would suggest that it tastes sort of like a liquified mix of yogurt and the cream part of an orange dreamsicle. I hesitate to offer that description, however, because I'm not sure that calling Milkis "liquid yogurt cream" sounds more appealing than just calling it "milk soda." On the other hand, Milkis does have the slight tartness of yogurt, but the overall sweetness and creaminess found in the center of a dreamsicle, so I feel confident that my description is accurate enough, even if it doesn't improve the beverage's PR.
Here's the best part, though: unlike all the snacks I've featured so far on this blog, I'm sure that Milkis is available in the states. For all of you reading this in America, you can actually try the drink, enjoy it, and then send me a thank you note in the comments section of this post. As I already mentioned, I know the Asian shop on main in Logan has oodles of Milkis. There's also a Cambodian shop in Salt Lake (that maybe Alex could post the address for in the comment section) with a few different flavors of Milkis (banana and orange, I think, but I prefer the original flavor). I also know there are several other Korean markets in the Salt Lake area based on the google search I just did. Hey, there are even some Asian markets in Provo that might have Milkis. So try some.