While everyone loves the sakura, you shouldn’t overlook the sakuranbo.
Cherry blossom season is just around the corner, and already you can feel Japan gradually getting more and more excited about the sakura opening up their beautiful petals and turning the country into a pink-hued wonderland. But in all the excitement over the flowers, you might find yourself wondering why you don’t see more cherry-flavored food and drink at this time of year, what with Japan’s live of seasonally-themed fare.
In actuality, the trees which produce the country’s breathtaking sakura are non-fruit-bearing species. That’s not to say Japan doesn’t grow any cherries, though. The variety of the fruit called Satonishiki, grown in the northeastern Tohoku region’s Yamagata Prefecture, is particularly prized, with fans calling it “the king of cherries.”
Since they’re good enough to have such a regal-sounding nickname, Satonishiki cherries are good enough to be part of McDonald’s Japan’s newest beverages, the company figures. Starting this week, the chain will be selling two new drinks, the McFizz Sakuranbo and the McFloat Sakuranbo (sakuranbo being the Japanese word for the cherry fruit), both of which are made with a modest (one-percent) measure of Satonishiki juice.
A reworking of last year’s Sakura Cherry McFizz, the carbonated drinks promise to be slightly fruitier than their strongly floral predecessor. The chain is trumpeting their refreshing sweetness, with the McFizz Sakuranbo priced at 250 yen (US$2.20) and the McFloat Sakuranbo, which is fortified with a swirl of soft serve vanilla ice cream, only slightly pricier at 310 yen.
Both will be served in special seasonal packaging, which along with the beverages’ pastel color should be a perfect match for the warming weather of spring. The new drinks go on sale March 8, and will ne available until early April, coinciding with the peak sakura season in the Tokyo area.
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