Calpis (カルピス Karupisu ) is a Japanese uncarbonated soft drink, manufactured by Calpis Co., Ltd. (カルピス株式会社 Karupisu Kabushiki-gaisha ), headquartered in Shibuya, Tokyo. Calpis Co. is a subsidiary of Ajinomoto. The beverage has a light, somewhat milky, and slightly acidic flavor, similar to plain or vanilla-flavored yogurt or Yakult. Its ingredients include water, nonfat dry milk and lactic acid, and is produced by lactic acid fermentation.
The drink is sold as a concentrate which is mixed with water or sometimes milk just before consumption. A pre-diluted version known as Calpis Water (カルピスウォーター Karupisu Wōtā ), or its carbonated variety, known as Calpis Soda (カルピスソーダ Karupisu Sōda ), are also available. It is also used to flavor kakigori (shaved ice) and as a mixer for cocktails and chuhai.
It was first marketed on July 7, 1919. It quickly became popular in pre-war Japan as its concentrated form meant it kept well without refrigeration. The polka dot packaging used to be white dots against a blue background until the colours were inverted in 1953. It was originally themed on the Milky Way, which is in reference to the Japanese festival of Tanabata on July 7, a traditional observation seen as the start of the summer.
There are many flavor variations. These variations include, but are not limited to, strawberry, grape, matcha, guava, mango, lychee, pineapple (available in Okinawa only), orange, mikan (Japanese tangerine), melon, peach, aloe, white chocolate and with cream. Recently, Calpis is available in an apple flavored "morning blend," a 70% calorie reduced version with calcium, and "The Premium Calpis," an extra-condensed pre-mixed version of the original Calpis Water. Another recent innovation is a diet version of Calpis Water called "Calpis Zero." In Japan and Taiwan one can get alcoholic versions of many Calpis drinks like "Calpis Sour" and "Calpis Bartime," a pre-made fruit flavored cocktail.
The company produces a variety of other drinks ranging from canned coffee to more nutritious yogurt drinks like "Gun Gun Gurt." They also put out non-beverage products such as "Calpis butter" and "Calpis vinegar."
Calpis's original logo was a simplified black and white depiction of a black man with large lips drinking from a glass using a straw. The logo was developed from a painting by a German artist depicting a black person wearing a Panama hat drinking Calpis.
As the logo came to be considered offensive, the black/white was first reversed and then the logo was subsequently dropped all together.
The founder of Calpis, Kaiun Mishima, traveled to the Mongolian region of northern China ("Inner Mongolia") in 1904, encountering a traditional cultured milk product known as airag. The active ingredient in airag, responsible for its unique flavor, is lactic acid produced by lactobaccilli bacteria. Upon returning to Japan, he resolved to develop beverages based on cultured milk and lactic acid.
- "Company Outline." Calpis. Retrieved on February 12, 2010.
- News on Japan - Calpis vs. Calpico
- "‘Swing Easy soda swell out the blow’ — Japanese Calpis Soda commercial". 3yen.com. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
- "Story of "CALPIS"". Calpis. Retrieved 25 September 2011.