Hi, I’m Randy Boggs, and for my first entry into the pages of Snack Chat, I want to share with you the trip of a lifetime I recently took to Japan and China. This wasn’t a work trip, but I did bring back some interesting facts related to our PepsiCo business. While I would love to write about all the traditions I noticed in both countries -- from the meek to the aggressive -- or the huge language barriers I encountered, despite traveling with a Japanese translator (and an app for that), today, I would like to share the differences in tastes and cultures I noticed on the trip. (That's me above, taking a picture of myself while on my trip.)
It started as I arrived in Nagoya, Japan. Before I even made it out of the airport, I immediately noticed my first bag of Lay’s Salmon Teriyaki. Together with a bottle of Pepsi Next (Pepsi MAX in the U.S.), I purchased my first overseas PepsiCo products. At that point, I had no clue that most of the meals I would eat over the next eight days would include salmon and teriyaki sauce. I came to learn very quickly that both of these flavors are very common and well accepted by the Japanese (they’re on nearly every menu) -- as much as burgers and pizza are in the U.S.
What I also learned is that the significance of the flavors is directly related to what I came to admire most about Japan before leaving. After visiting four different cities (Nagoya, Tokyo, Hakone and Kyoto) during my excursion, I learned Japan is a country very proud of its traditions and unique cultures. While Japan has influenced many global trends we see today, its people don’t travel too far from what they know and love about their own history. I couldn’t help but admire the way the people in Japan are proud of their way of life, but don’t try to force you to know or understand it. They love to share the deep-rooted traditions of their culture and the overall happiness they have for life. Exploring the culture helped me understand why Frito-Lay introduced a Lay’s flavor like salmon and teriyaki -- it parallels the Japanese culture and way of life.
Next, I traveled to Shanghai, China. The culture in China was much more intense than in Japan. I noticed that the Chinese also embrace tradition, but discovered they explore new ideas and experience life more than you might think. I continued my search for interesting chip flavors and found that one of the most popular Lay’s flavors in the U.S., barbeque, was available in all of the three cities I visited in China (Shanghai, Beijing and Xian) -- specifically Lay’s Texas Grilled BBQ. Obviously this grabbed my attention, since I live in Texas. I had to step back and remember I was in China, and doing so blew me away. Barbeque-flavored Lay’s is a product you really can find everywhere.
After spending several days in China, this made sense as well. Just as the taste preferences in Japan match traditional Japanese ways, the tastes in China matched their ways -- bold, experimental and even daring at times. China’s culture, while surrounded by tradition, seemed to be very experimental with new ideas, a growing economy and many non-traditional ways of life. It was a little more difficult for me to adapt and find a comfort zone, because each day was a completely new experience in both culture and taste. At least I had barbeque Lay’s handy!
My journey to both Japan and China was a trip I’ll never forget. I had the opportunity to live some of the most moving, thought-provoking and emotional moments in my life. The difference in details between the two cultures was a phenomenal experience. It was also great to bring back some insight on PepsiCo’s products abroad, and how we are working both in the U.S. and globally to bring local flavors to our consumers.
I look forward to sharing more of my experiences here on Snack Chat in the coming months, as well as my love for photography and digital media. I also blog about our “Food for Good” initiative on PepsiCo's Living the Promise blog site, so check it out if you’re interested.