Yesterday I was having lunch with some of my collegues, one of whom is a Chinese man in his 40’s. Somehow we got to reminiscing about things in the 198o’s (when I came), and the topic of drinks came up. Western brands of soft drinks were very rare, but local soft drinks were common. Soft drinks were called qishui (gas water), and came in only three flavors: orange, pineapple, and banana. Even though they were syrupy sweet, on a hot day they could quench a thirst. We never drank all the contents of the bottle, however, because of the mysterious little things that settled at the bottom.
Here’s a photo I took of a qishui seller in Zhengzhou in 1984.