VSL:WEB // What’s in that kid’s sippy cup?

“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?

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