Pepsi Cucumber hits store shelves

The Associated Press

Consumers can stay cool as a cucumber this summer with Pepsi Ice Cucumber, a new soda based on the crisp green gourd.

The soft drink, which hit stores Tuesday, doesn’t actually have any cucumber in it. Instead, artificial flavoring mimics “the refreshing taste of a fresh cucumber,” said Aya Takemoto, spokeswoman of Japan’s Pepsi distributor, Suntory Ltd.

“We wanted a flavor that makes people think of keeping cool in the summer heat,” Takemoto said. “We thought the cucumber was just perfect.”

The mint-colored soda is on sale just for the summer and only in Japan, Takemoto said. She said initial sales were brisk, and Suntory aims to sell 200,000 cases over the next three months.

Pepsi trails industry leader Coca Cola (Japan) Co., with about 15 percent of the cola market, and faces stiff competition from nonfizzy bottled drinks like green tea and coffee.

Suntory said it sold 20.5 million cases of Pepsi-brand drinks in 2006, including its popular Pepsi NEX zero-calorie soda.