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The country buys more Fanta than the U.S. or China.
Americans aren’t above leaving out drinks for mythical beings. Christians will leave out milk for Santa on Christmas Eve. Jews are just recently held Passover Seders, which include an extra cup of wine for the prophet Elijah. But according to a recent report from Public Radio International’s The World, spirits in Thailand have a bit of a sweeter—and more corporately branded—craving… Strawberry Fanta.
“Strawberry Fanta is among the most popular food offerings presented to Thai ghosts—if not the most popular,” writes PRI’s Patrick Winn. “It’s hard to think of another case in which corporate junk food and the occult are so deeply intertwined. Walk the streets of Bangkok for a day and you’ll notice dozens of opened, unconsumed Fanta bottles in conspicuous locations.” Apparently, Thai homes typically include a “spirit house,” a small area where residents attempt to attract friendly spirits to keep the bad spirits at bay. These spirits have a proclivity towards food and beverage, especially sweet red soda, with Fanta being the soda of choice.
Thailand’s spiritual association with Fanta is so strong that the Asian nation is actually the brand’s fourth largest market; more of the soda is sold there than in either China or the United States. A rep for Coca-Cola, the maker of Fanta, said the whole ghost soda thing is “not something we promote or market.” Amazingly, however, Watcharapol “Jack” Fukjidee, who hosts a program called Ghost Radio, suggests that people rarely drink Strawberry Fanta, lest they get mocked by their friends. “They’ll say, ‘Whoa, who do you think you are? A ghost baby?’” explains Fukjidee. (A toddler spirit known as Kuman Thong is supposedly the biggest Fanta fan of them all.)
Oddly, however, just how and when the spirits decided to fall in love with the Coca-Cola Company is unknown. It’s been going on for decades—longer than Chatgaew Pinjualai, a woman who sells Fanta and other spirit offering on the side of the road, can explain. “It’s just a tradition,” she said. “A very pervasive tradition.” She later continued, “But red-colored Fanta is far and away the most popular…. It’s good stuff. One Fanta will get you 10 wishes.” Sounds like Coca-Cola’s wishes already came true.