Ramune and the Mystery of the Codd Stopper Bottle

codd stopper.jpg
One of my favorite treats at an Asian grocery store is Ramune. Ramune is a soda with Japanese origins (there's a Taiwanese version as well) that comes in a variety of sugary-sweet flavors. Although, unfortunately, not blood. Bummer. But the cool thing about Ramune isn't the taste; it's the container. Bottles of the soda are sealed up with a marble. To open them, you have to force the marble down into the bottle, where it gets captured in a small chamber within. Pop it in hard and it makes a fizzy mess; which of course can be part of the appeal of drinking it. While the bottle may appear novel, once again it's in fact an old technology that just happens to feel delightfully modern. The bottle is a Codd Stopper, invented by soda magnate Hiram Codd (of the Camberwell Coddses, not those low born mother-scratching Devonshire Coddses) and patented in 1873. The idea is that the bottle uses internal pressure from carbonation to force the marble up against the rubber stopper at the lip, sealing your tasty beverage inside. It was kind of a hit, although the quaintly pejorative term codswallop refers to beer that was sold in such bottles. Codd also helped pioneer the return deposit (thus giving d. boon $.05) perhaps because children were prone to smashing empty Codd bottles to get at the marble inside. Kids are dumb. But while Codd bottles fell out of use in Europe, and never gained much traction in North America, they were crazy popular in Asia, particularly in Japan where, as we have previously established, they know from beverages. Today you can get Shirakiku brand Ramune all over the place--assuming you live in San Francisco like me. Er. You don't? Well, you can still pick it up on Amazon. But if there is an Asian market in your area, save yourself some shipping costs; they'll have it. And now, for a horrifying video: Photo credit: Mark A. Miller

About Mat Honan

I enjoy drinking things that are made out of liquid
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23 Responses to Ramune and the Mystery of the Codd Stopper Bottle

  1. Anonymous says:


  2. Naganalf says:

    Thanks for the link to the Minutemen videos! I had no idea my favorite band had been so captured.

  3. Itsumishi says:

    You come across old bottles like this in Australia a bit. We found about 4 when we dug up our backyard.

    I know mum tells me that a lot of drinks used them back in the day.

  4. sirspocksalot says:

    You’ve got some really cute kids there, Rich.

    I think maybe I’ll head over to Mitsuwa in the morning and pick up a couple bottles of ramune. I love the stuff.

  5. Tenn says:

    Aha, Ramune. Good stuff, best in Lychee or Melon. Really hard to break those bottles nowadays. The glass is very thick.

  6. Zaren says:


    Yeah, they were a bit amped up for the video. But whattya want, they’re young boys sitting at home, goofing off in front of dad and his camera. There’s tons of other videos of them being much more “civilized”. Hit up the video on Youtube and see the other fun stuff they’ve done with Dad. (Disclaimer: I used to listen to their dad’s podcast back when it was active. They’re good kids, just a bit high-strung in this video.)

  7. Epicanis says:

    I’ve seen Ramune in a couple of places around the Houston area, too (specifically The Woodlands[1]).

    Now I need to see if there’s a US patent for it (since I’ve so far had no luck finding copies of old European patents online) for my archives…

    [1] No, not “Woodlands, TX”, it’s actually “The Woodlands, TX”. The “The” is actually part of the name.

  8. skramble says:

    I find those kids to be quite annoying.

  9. JJR1971 says:

    I sampled some Ramune at our local coffee shop (Jupiter House) here in Denton, Texas. Probably the most frustrating soft drink I’ve ever consumed! I could only consume it in petite little sips.

    When I (finally) finished, I promptly went back to drinking my old standby, Jones Soda, and felt seized by the urge to put my empty Ramune bottle on a fence and blast it with a shotgun. I resisted the urge, but the mental picture was nice.

  10. dofnup says:

    OMG I had just seen one of these bottles in my local Asiana market but didn’t dare buy it. This post inspired me to go back and buy one of each flavor.

    My verdict: the Codd bottle is AWESOME! I didn’t know the clinking sound of the glass marble against the glass bottle would be so satisfying. Weird!

    The original flavor is my favorite so far, the lychee flavor was a bit too sweet, and lychees are my favorite fruit ever, so that should tell you something about the sugar content ^_~

    My only complaint is that they are finished so soon! Do they make larger bottles? Methinks I’m going to be visiting Asiana a lot more in the near future ^_^

    Thank you so much for this post!

  11. bizwank says:

    “Asian Market” nothing, most of the conveyor-belt sushi places around Seattle have this, as does the sushi place at the mall. My daughter loves them to death.

  12. fenrox says:


  13. Jarvik7 says:

    Those kids are hyper. How many ramune did you give them before taking this video?

  14. Rich Pav says:

    That’s my kids and me in the video. Horrifying? Annoying? They’re just acting their age.

  15. J France says:

    Whoa – I saw these for the first time… two days ago? And felt compelled to buy one.

    And now I see them here… totally bizarre, considering I live in Australia.


  16. gnosis says:

    I noticed a couple years ago that there were plastic Ramune bottles at my market here in the US. I thought: “Heresy!”, but haven’t seen them since. They must have gotten similar feedback.

  17. pork musket says:

    Awesome. Next time I’m near the Asian market I’m gonna look for some of this.

  18. feedingfashionistas says:

    The first time I had Ramune, I was totally fascinated with that ingenious marble mechanism. The soda itself seems to taste a bit like fizzy bubble gum, at least in the “original” flavor. Not terrible compelling, but worth it for the Codd experience.

    Jeez, I hope my future kids don’t learn to pull manga-inspired faces like that.. ;)

  19. theboredom says:

    I always wondered about that line in “Corona”. How enlightening!

  20. greatinsight says:

    Wow, how come I live in Japan and have never heard of Ramune or seen any of these bottles? Does anyone know what brands in Nippon still use them?

  21. Anonymous says:

    I saw Ramune at the Kroger sushi bar today, and the lady working there was nice enough to give me one free. Good thing, because a $2.53 bottle of soda that’s half the size of the 50 cent coke can i could’ve bought….I was way skeptical. But it tasted…interesting…and the bottle is awesome.

  22. liquide says:

    These kids have lost their marbles

  23. Anonymous says:

    At the risk of being the wet blanket: The easy way to get at the marble is to unscrew the plastic cap holding the rubber stopper in place (which is threaded the “wrong” way – twist clockwise)…

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