Prior to boarding your flight to Germany, it’s probably a good idea to have a last bottle of Coke (or Pepsi). Sure, Coke is also available in Germany, but being caught buying or drinking it in Germany is akin to walking into a Japanese living room with fresh rat feces on your shoes. You would lose face forever. Double forever if you’re American (yes, in spite of Barack Obama). In Germany, it is a generally accepted fact that the secret ingredient of Coke is made from the blood of underage Chinese slave laborers, distilled by elderly male Zionist scientists in a sadistic ritual in secret underground labs on Uranus which can only be traveled to by producing tons of carbon dioxide. Then again, Germans like soft drinks too. But, in contrary to basically every other person on this planet who would just walk into a convenience store and buy a can, Germans have made sure the soft drink they spend their money on comes with the right ideology and, for extra peace-of-mind, is not made by a multinational corporation.
Enter Bionade. This is the current soft drink of choice for Germans. Actually, it’s the only soft drink you can safely drink in public without the risk of being labeled as the wrong type of foreigner. You see, to Germans, Bionade is not simply a way to replenish the body with liquids, but a formula that manages to pack any German’s three favorite ideologies (Anti-Americanism, Eco-Awareness, and Anti-Globalization) into one retro-designed, recyclable glass bottle. To be seen drinking it sitting outside in a cool bar in, say, Berlin Prenzlauer Berg, is a universally accepted life goal in Germany.
You might wonder how the company behind Bionade pulled this off - as we learned earlier, Germans usually consider any money not spent towards owning property or travel-for-the-sake-of-education as lost money. If there was a textbook on how to sell stuff to Germans, the Bionade story would surely be featured as the greatest achievement ever. This company understood Germans so thoroughly that it should serve nicely as a blueprint for blending in with them. Here’s a fun task four you: Read the next paragraph, and try to spot all the facts why Germans love Bionade, applying what you learned from this blog so far - to make things a bit easier, the important points are printed in eco-aware green:
Bionade first was sold in trendy Bars and Cafes in Hamburg, often frequented by people from cool professions like Advertising, Art, or Music. It comes in recyclable glass bottles that feature a retro designedlabel and look like beer bottles. It’s made by a privately-owned German microbrewery that almost went broke once, but got back on track byinventing a health food novelty. The accompanying advertising campaign isn’t just an advertising campaign, but is meant as a message to the German people and features openly Anti-American copy writing, like “not recommended by the leading American soft-drink makers”, or “we’re the soft drink next to that creepy soft drink which those other people always buy”.
The flavors Bionade comes in are strictly non-mainstream: There’s Elderberry, which, for German people, conjures up childhood memories of playing outside in anenvironmentally intact, unkempt garden. Then, there’s Lychee, a Chinese fruit that they associate with watching “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” for the first time and later on spending 8 hours in a cafe talking about how nouveau Chinese cinema is superior to mainstream Hollywood. Next is Herbs, something they assume must be super-healthy while at the same time being down-to-earth and reminds them of concepts they revere, like Waldorf education. Finally, there’s Ginger-Orange, which might irritate you first as oranges are pretty mainstream fruit. Think again - Germans loathe being seen as trying too hard to be special, so some banal soft-drink ingredient like Oranges had to be offered as well. It doesn’t stop there, though - trying too hard not to be trying too hard is also a no-no, so Ginger had to be added which brings up memories of a backpacking tour through Asian 3rd world countries to experience the destructive consequences of globalization first hand. Although Bionade is now also sold in faceless, evil supermarket chains, to really enjoy it, it must always be sourced from small, privately-owned health-food stores or organic cafes at double the price.
Now, you probably understand that Bionade is so much more than just a soft drink to Germans and to be able to blend in with them, you must avoid some pitfalls that a non-German person is likely to fall into. First of all, if a German persons shows you Bionade, you must act like you have never heard of it before. This is crucial as German people like to be the first person to introduce foreigners to German-made products, often by saying “this is superior to what you’re used to, just try it once”. Do not mention that it’s available in your home country, too, and that you tried it already but wasn’t too impressed with it, or worse, that you don’t really care what soft drink you buy as it’s just a soft drink. Also don’t talk about that article you read about the findings of the food watch organization or what you heard about the recent recalls of Bionade. The German person will not believe you anyway and displaying such behavior may lead him or her to think of you as complicated or, worse, being a dirty, lobbying lobbyist lobbying for the huge multinational soft-drink lobby.
When drinking Bionade for the first time, the German person will intensively watch you put the bottle up to your mouth and swallow down the first gulp. When done, he or she will expect your face to show a surprised, yet enchanted expression. Your German acquaintance might want to test you by saying “Don’t you think it tastes rather bland and just like sugary water with little flavor?” to which you are expected to answer “Not at all! It tastes really special - not too sweet, and the flavor is nice and subtle, nothing like that artificial in-your-face flavor of other soft drinks”, followed up by “it’s so much better than what I am used to! I can already feel it’s really good for my body and it also feels good not to support evil multinational corporations and their big-budget marketing propaganda.” Memorize these lines. If you accidentally say something negative about the taste, the German person will become very defensive and may say “well I guess it’s not chilled enough - it tastes best when it’s chilled well”, which, admittedly, is also true for tap water or cat urine.
At this point, any amount of Bionade consumed will not be sufficient to charm away the deep mistrust now borne by that German person against you.