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

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