China is well known for its counterfeit products and you can find a Chinese knock off for just about anything! From toothpaste to handbags and electronics, even whole towns to simpler things like food and drinks. Chinese knockoffs show how far bootleggers are willing to go to rip off a good idea Some of the rip-offs are really good while some of them are quite funny. China creates so many knock-offs because everything is “made in China”! They have easy access to manufacturing anything they desire with a fast turn around. It’s also cheaper to make these faux products and a way for them to make more with less.
10. Dr. Anything But Pepper
The former CEO and president of the Dr. Pepper/7-Up Company once said “I’ve always maintained you cannot tell anyone what Dr.Pepper tastes like because it’s so different. It’s not an apple, it’s not an orange, it’s not a strawberry, it’s not a root beer, it’s not even a cola. It’s a different kind of drink with a unique taste all its own.” Yet there are many imitators of the unique Dr.Pepper taste and all have sought to replicate not just the soda’s flavor, but also it’s branding. If you are in China looking for a can of Dr. Pepper you’re probably going to find Dr. Bob and every other name you could think of before you get to the Pepper. Here’s a list for Dr. Pepper you can find in China: Dr. Bob, Dr. Thunder, Dr. Skipper, Dr. Fine Soda, Dr. Perky, Dr. Snap, Dr. Perfect, Dr. Becker, Dr. Bold, and Dr. Right. Which of these doctors would you trust? The prices of these knock-off drinks are practically the same as the real ones although most are slightly cheaper. Yet most people who buy them just want the cheaper option or do not pay attention to the imitation difference and others prefer them and find them perfectly drinkable! With at least 24 variations of Dr. Pepper to choose from would you go for the counterfeit or pay the price for the original?
9. Mountain Shoutin’
Look familiar? Similar to Mountain Dew in look and taste but the name rhymes a little better, mountain shoutin’. Originally Mountain Dew but in China, there are at least 8 different versions of this soda. You have anything from Wild Mountain to Mountain Frost to choose from! Here’s a “quick” list of Mountain Dew knock-offs: Mountain Lightning, Mountain W, Mountain Rapids, Mountain FROST, Mountain Shoutin’, Mountain Explosion, Mountain Lion, and Wild Mountain. Just reading this list feels like a workout of climbing a mountain! The good news with all these knock-off mountain dews you don’t really need to stress about proceeding with caution as much as you would with alcohol in China. It is also very common to find fake alcohol that can make one very ill. Usually, it’s wine, certain beer brands like Budweiser and Corona or spirits like Whiskey. Approximately 30% of China’s alcohol is fake so before you pick up a mountain shoutin’ to use as a mixer be wary of the alcohol!
8. The New Sprite is Flite
Another perfect copycat soda with the same look and taste of the original, Sprite. China makes up for about 63% if not more of the world’s counterfeit items. Although China’s trademark law regulates patent registration and there is a legal “loophole” that allows food and drink companies to continue using their branding of choice during the application process until a final decision is made. As a result, some of the producers use similar trademarks and sell their products during the application process where others find other loopholes or just keep doing it until they get caught. So before flite got registered they could have been the false sprite but the recipe for the soda could be almost identical. The copycat drinks that are sold in the Chinese market technically all have the required manufacturing license, while some also have registered trademarks. So when you are catching your next flight would you grab a flite too?
7. Future Cola
The Cola of the Future? Probably not but it’s another breed of Cola so to speak and from a popular company called Wahaha. The Future Cola tastes like a cross between Coca-Cola and Pepsi yet has a red and white label that strongly resembles the Coca-Cola Co.’s world-famous one. Coincidence? We think not! Wahaha’s company goal is to have Future Cola sit on the same shelves as it’s original competitors Coca-Cola and Pepsi and sell for roughly the same price. To put into perspective the push Wahaha is making to accomplish this goal is in 2003, Wahaha’s total beverage production was 3.75 million tons. This production amount exceeded that of Coca-Cola’s production in China! Now that’s a lot of colas! It is extremely popular to drink Cocoa-Cola and is a favourite drink for the Chinese. They love coca cola and any variation of it, you can typically see people walking down the street with a cola from 7/1 in their hand or ordering one at a restaurant.
6. China Cola, Another Cola
Then there’s another breed of cola called China Cola. This one is actually a licensed product from a Chinese company and it’s distributed by Reed’s. For those who like to drink Cola, then this China Cola could be a healthy alternative to drinking the regular Coca-Cola because it has no preservatives, it’s caffeine free and not so sugary and sweet. The reason why it’s called “China Cola” is because it’s made with Chinese herbs! It smells just like the regular cola you see in the supermarket and looks almost the same but a few minor differentiators. The color is a little bit darker and as for the texture, there is a lot less carbonation in the beverage. The cola is refreshing and bubbly nonetheless and after a few sips, you will notice that it isn’t as sweet as the regular ones that you see on the shelves. Reviews say the sweetness in the cola tastes almost like it’s fake but that’s probably because of the Chinese herbs in the soda. The sweetness taste does not stay long in the mouth due to the effect of using raw cane sugar as the sweetening ingredient. Some even say it’s one of the best cola-like beverages that are out there on the market.
5. Hey Song Sarsparilla (黑松沙士)
Perhaps this is the truest “root beer” you can find in China. From the label to the taste as well! Instead of a root beer knock off you might as well go for the one that’s coming from the actual root used in root beer, right? Hey Song Sarsaparilla is a popular Chinese drink that can be found in supermarkets and convenience stores but it seems to have a better reputation with the Westerners than it does amongst the Chinese! Sarsaparilla is usually considered an equivalent to Root Beer but it has a somewhat “medicinal taste”. With mixed reviews, there are some that love it, some say it tastes like a black cherry root beer and then there are some who hate the drink. The Chinese don’t like this root beer soda and find it hard to swallow because it reminds them of a mosquito repellent called 风油精 fengyoujing. I mean would you want to drink something that smells like Johnson’s OFF mosquito repellent? Yikes! But for a Westerner that has never used fengyoujing, sarsparilla is as nice and tasty as regular root beer but described to be not as strong and with less of a licorice taste. Sarsparilla is a root, it is the actual extract that goes into making root beer! Sarsaparilla is very common in Asia and a popular flavour you can find in drinks across other Asian countries, not just China.
4. Diet Water
Looking for the diet soda? Well, instead you can find diet water. As if water has calories, sugar or fat to be taken out of it to make it a diet product. Get slim with the “diet water” in China? Well as funny as it is, never thought you’d see a diet version of water! Of course. Coca-Cola, Sprite or Pepsi will have a diet version loaded with artificial ingredients but what do they do with water to make it diet? Our guess is it’s a marketing tactic to get people to buy the new “diet water”. Perhaps this is clever considering the water scams in China. The police have previously uncovered a scam in which plastic bottles are filled with tap water or poorly treated water and then sealed with quality standard seals to make it seem as though the water was good quality as well. The bottles have been shown to have traces of E. coli amongst other fungi. More than 100 million bottles of this falsified water are sold every year! Every year there are about 200 million bottles of water that are produced both genuine and counterfeit. So, maybe diet water is purified water and doesn’t contain fungi? Maybe that’s what makes it diet?! The bottled water scam is not a new thing in China and has been going on since at least 2002. Water companies are constantly building trust with their people.
3. Arctic Ocean Orange Soda
There’s a Fanta wannabe on the shelves in China, it’s called the Arctic Ocean Orange Soda. As the Spice Girls would say, if you wanna be my lover you gotta get with my friends… and so this drink made friends with Pepsi and that’s how it made its way around China with a good reputation. It is a refreshing, naturally flavored orange soda that looks just like Fanta. In the 1990s the Arctic Ocean Orange soda was bought out by Pepsi. Even before the orange soda was bought out by the giant company it had become the soda for many consumers in China. You can find it at almost any shop for about 3 RMB. Its polar bear logo on glass bottles was very iconic. Perhaps it reminds you of another glass bottle that uses polar bears as their symbol? Coca-Cola. Since Fanta is a Coca-Cola product it almost seems as though they took the Coca-Cola bottles and mascot, combined it with a Fanta like soda and created the Arctic Ocean Orange soda.
2. Gewasi Fermented Bread Drink (格瓦斯)
The kombucha of China! Gewasi Fermented Bread Drink is a carbonated fermented beverage that’s quite weird! Kombucha is a fermented tea drink very popular in North America so perhaps China thought to bring in a fermented drink into their market but instead of a fermented tea, it’s even better… bread! Imagine the drink as a combination of bread and a bubbly drink merging into one. Instead of taking a bite of the loaf, you taste it in liquid form after infusing the flavours of bread into a sweet, carbonated drink. If you are a bread lover and gut health conscious this might just be the drink for you and it is a commonly seen drink throughout China. It smells like bread and tastes like bread! No need for baking bread to get that comforting aroma throughout your home just crack open a bottle of Gewasi Fermented Bread drink instead (it’s much easier right?). Some say this drink tastes amazing and is a favourite but others find it very strange to drink a bread-like tasting carbonated sweet soda.
1. Watson’s Ginger Ale
Watson’s brand is the largest health care and beauty care chain store in Asia. It is very popular in China and you can find this chain store in many shopping malls! The Watson’s brand has many products of their own and has even gone as far as creating a common soda that’s popularly used to aid with nausea, used as a mixer for drinks or just enjoyed on its own! The ingredients list they use is similar to well-known brands like Schweppes. Watson’s brand ingredients are water, white sugar, food additive, carbon dioxide, citric acid, edible essence, sodium benzoate, and caramel colour. Schweppes in comparison uses carbonated water, sugar, citric acid, flavourings, caramel colour, and sodium citrate. Watson’s has also mimicked making other sodas like tonic water. The copycat sodas many times use the same ingredient list as the originals just change up the name and logo. Relatively similar in taste, ingredients, and names but with a small difference in price if you had to choose would it be the original or the counterfeit soda? Some of them are so good you can easily make the mistake to grab the knockoff whereas for others it would be a conscious choice. So what would it be in the battles between Watson’s vs Schweppes, Coca-Cola vs Future Cola, Dr. Pepper vs Dr. Bob, Mountain Dew vs Mountain Shoutin’, Sprite vs Flite and so many more! Then, of course, there are also many sodas that China also carries that are unique and fun. Sometimes they are popular solely because of the packaging! A Taiwanese company, Ocean Bomb, has sparkling water flavoured sodas like white grape and peach but the cans resemble pokemon and the pokemon characters. There are at least 7 of these sodas with a different flavour per character, Squirtle, Bulbasaur, Charmander, Pikachu, Snorlax, Jigglypuff, and a Master Ball. These types of sodas are also very popular amongst the Chinese even though they aren’t knock offs, they are an imitation of popular soda flavours, loaded with sugar and have fun packaging. What’s next… perhaps a Hello Kitty soda?!