Two prominent beverage companies in Japan are offering consumers a choice this winter: one presents them with something new, the other dusts off a long-discontinued item and brings it back to life.

The former comes courtesy of Coca-Cola Japan, which recently rolled out a Coca-Cola Strawberry flavor of its flagship soda; the tagline is “enjoy a strawberry reward.” This drink (¥140 before tax) isn’t a totally new proposition — “Twisted Strawberry” and “Strawberry Guava” Diet Coke flavors already exist abroad — but nothing like it has been stocked in Japan’s konbini (convenience store) fridges before.

After trying it, it’s clear why that’s the case, because the fruit flavor here comes closer to something you’d find at a doctor’s office than any natural strawberry field.

Asahi has done far better, and is bringing back its Showa Era (1926-89) soda, Lemola, for a limited time. This one (¥140 before tax) is simple — lemon and lime, why get too crazy? — but refreshing, adding a nice citrus bite to the familiar taste of Mitsuya Cider.

Turns out sticking with what worked before beats the unknown, at least when it comes to fruit-flavored carbonated drinks.

In line with COVID-19 guidelines, the government is strongly requesting that residents and visitors exercise caution if they choose to visit bars, restaurants, music venues and other public spaces.

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