They don’t have Pepsiâ„¢.
Well, maybe that’s a little sweeping. In the spirit of Heinlein’s Fair Witnesses, let me amend that statement to reflect precisely what I saw or, more accurately, did not see.
In four weeks in the major cities of New Zealand and Australia, I did not see one can, bottle (glass or plastic), or soda fountain dispensing Pepsiâ„¢. Not in a restaurant. Not in a bar. Not in a full-service grocery or convenience store. Not in a vending machine.
I did not see even one ad for Pepsiâ„¢ — no billboard, street sign, or TV spot — and I think that says it all.
Now, I had not expected to find my tipple of choice: Caffeine-free Diet Pepsiâ„¢ in a 12-ounce plastic bottle. Serving a niche market par excellence, this product can be tricky to find even in my city of residence. But in these days of global markets, what I did find was shocking: no Pepsiâ„¢ anywhere, of any kind. Not diet. Not full-test. Not nothing.
I know what you’re thinking: “How do they stand it?”
But that’s not what I’m thinking. After all, if they don’t have any Pepsiâ„¢ at all, they can’t know what they’re missing. But I can, as can legions of other North American tourists. So what I’m thinking is this: “There oughta be a law.”
A full-disclosure-before-booking-flights law, I’m thinking. Something akin to a truth-in-advertising law, I’m thinking.
Or, if not a law — after all, it’s notoriously hard to legislate decency — then at least some social mores along the lines of come-on-it’s-just-common-courtesy-to-be upfront-about-it. Something — anything — that would alert Pepsiâ„¢-dependent travellers to the inexplicable absence of this product in Australia and New Zealand. That’s what I’m thinking.
Of course, reciprocity is key to strong relations, so maybe Canada should come with its own warning labels.
For potential tourists from Down Under, that would include a notification that we don’t routinely offer warm, flaky scones and sweet, heavy cream just a shade different from (and better than!) our whipped cream to accompany mid-morning coffee-and-tea breaks. In Australia, we enjoyed this apparently commonplace treat in establishments ranging from a chic cafe in a downtown botanical garden to an otherwise spartan rest stop out in the middle of nowhere (a rest stop that was one part Aboriginal art gallery, one part souvenir/convenience shop, and one part biker bar).
For potential tourists from other parts of the world, I’m thinking there’s still some work to be done to identify the inexplicable product absences from their points of view. Scots, for example, might like to know that they can’t get haggis on this side of the Pond; Brits, that they can’t order warm beer.
And then there are the strange differences in products purporting to be the same. Turks might want to be warned about what Timmy’s does to coffee, New Yorkers about what we do to bagels, and the French about what we do to croissants.
There is, I’m thinking, a whole world of comestible cautions to be documented. And so I humbly offer myself as food-and-beverage cautioneer, at taxpayers’ expense of course. It is, after all, for the good of our international relationships. And if that seems a touch too high-falutin’, well, consider it merely the necessary cost of common courtesy.