“Yeah, I remember when I had my first beer.” That exquisitely devastating put-down, administered to hecklers by Steve Martin in his stand-up days, might very well get a confused reaction in modern-day Japan. It is, after all, the land where children are encouraged to drink early and often, if an ad touting the refreshing-looking Kodomo No Nomimono is any indication.
It turns out the product in question is actually an apple-juice-flavored beverage designed merely to look like beer – apparently so Junior doesn’t have to feel the sobering sting of embarrassment at grown-up gatherings. Cue global (particularly American) indignation. But is the idea behind a pilsner with training wheels really such a new thing? What are Shirley Temples, anyway, but starter cocktails? Before the automatic clucking and finger-wagging, just stop and think: Perhaps this is teaching kids to get used to drinking nonalcoholic beer as adults. What? Too Zen?
This post is from Observer Short List—an email of three favorite things from people you want to know. Sign up to receive OSL here.