Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Guaraná - The Soft Drink

The small fruit from the Amazonian rain forest known as guaraná provides not only an extract or powder with a powerful stimulant effect on the body, as discussed in the previous post, but also provides the name, if not the principal , of one of the most important soft drinks sold in Brazil, certainly the most iconically Brazilian soft drink that exists. Brazilians, in the third largest market in the world for soft drinks, consume enormous quantities of guaraná, which follows only Coca-Cola in the national market. The soft drink Guaraná is a crisp, highly carbonated soft drink, with a flavor that can best be described as "apple-ish" with hints of berries. It's very refreshing, particularly when served ice cold on a tropically hot day, a typical day in most of Brazil.

The first Guaraná soft drink was developed in 1905 by a medical doctor in Rio de Janeiro state. It became popular quickly, and its popularity led to the development of competing soft drinks named Guaraná . The most important of these was created in 1921 by Antartica, a beverage and brewery company which is now port of the largest beer producing consortium in the world AmBev. Guaraná Antartica is by far the most consumed Guaraná in Brazil, dwarfing all competitors, including the Kuat brand, which is Coca-Cola's entry into the Guaraná market. It is so much the brand leader in Brazil that one's of it's more recent slogans is simply "É o que é," which means "It is what it is." Guaraná  Antartica is the primary sponsor of the Brazilian national soccer team, which links the product directly to the soul of Brazilian culture. During the 2006 World Cup, Antartica filled the nation's TV screens with a commercial that some consider the best Brazilian commercial of all time, and which created a storm of outrage in neighboring Argentina. In the commercial, the camera pans the national team singing the Brazilian National Anthem, and as it pans, you see the among the players Diego Maradona dressed in the official Brazilian kit. Suddenly the scene shifts as Maradona awakes from this nightmare in his own bed, and puts it all down to drinking Guaraná Antartica before going to bed. Here is the ad, from YouTube:

Antartica isn't the only Guaraná in Brazil, though, and in the next post on Flavors of Brazil, we'll cover one of the most interesting of the non-Antartica Guaranás.

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