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  • Michael Krakovskiy 1:10 am on March 15, 2006 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 212-387-8882, 212-420-6370, 212-866-4780, AM 34, Bet Park, , Canned coffee, , , , genius science fiction writer, Iced tea, , , junk food, late genius science fiction writer, , , , , , SAM BOK store, skincare products, Soft drink, , , Unagi   

    Japanese Convinience 

    In one of the stories of the late genius science fiction writer Robert Sheckley, the main character needs crazy and exotic items to cast a spell. Bat wings, eyes of newt, etc, etc. Seemingly hard to find items, yet the character did not have any problems finding them. Why? Because he lived in Manhattan. You can find the most obscure, impossible to locate items in New York. Dried parasitic fungus that feeds on caterpillars? I had no trouble finding it.

    A couple of days ago I made a happy discovery. It looks like Manhattan has it’s own chain of authentic Japanese “konbini” – convenience stores. When I visited Japan, I really liked konbinis. They have 7-Eleven, just like we do, but also Ministop, Lawson, Sunkus and FamilyMart.

    So, what’s different in a Japanese konbini? The variety and quality of junk food that they sell is a lot better. They are stocked with a humongous variety of snacks. Dozens of types of dried squid and fish for beer, Japanese sweets, nuts, edamame, sashimi quality fish, japanese pickles like umeboshi. The variety of soft drinks and genki drinks. They also have Japanese shampoos and skincare products. In short, they are stuffed with Japanese goodness of overpowering variety.

    I’ve been to SAM BOK store at 127 West 43rd Street before. It was nice but not the same as the real Japanese kombini. Also there’s a big Chinese supermarket in my are which has a lot of Japanese stuff. Not the same either. But then I found JAS MART. It even has 3 locations!

    35 St. Marks Place, (Bet 2nd & 3rd Ave), NYC
    212-420-6370
    Sun – Thur: 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM
    Fri & Sat: 11:00 AM – 12:00 AM

    34 East 23rd Street, (Bet Park & Madison Ave), NYC
    212-387-8882
    Mon – Fri: 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM
    Sat & Sun: 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM

    2847 Broadway, (Bet 110th & 111th St), NYC
    212-866-4780
    Mon – Sun: 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM

    They even have genki drinks and Coffee Boss coffe! I’ve been to the one on 23rd street and promptly loaded myself up with goodies. Unagi eel, unagi sauce, roasted rice tea, sencha tea, several types of dried ika and fish, umeboshi, edamame. It’s a little expensive, but hey – beats buying tickets to Japan.

    Coffee Boss is a brand of Japanese canned coffee drinks with a J. R. “Bob” Dobbs-look alike mascot. They are sold in Japanese style soda machines which look rather different from the US Coke/Pepsi machines. They can serve the cans hot or cold. I wonder why somebody doesn’t bring some of these to Manhattan – it looks like the design of soda machines hasn’t changed much in the last 20 years!

    Pocari Sweat is a brand of Japanese sports drink, and despite the name rather tasty I might add. Notice the recycling can next to the machine – apparently the Japanese etiquette requires you to finish drinking your soft drinks next to the machine and not walking around with them. Almost every machine sold unsweetened green tea, in many cases Coke or Pepsi-branded.

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 9:24 am on December 5, 2004 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Soft drink   

    White Paper, The Non-boring Kind 

    As a deeply materialistic person I have a lot of various collectible kipple in my cubicle and at home. I like to brag about artifacts that I own, but often don’t because I am often ashamed of photos of them that I take.

    Well, no more. I thought about it for a while and realized that the best way to photograph my knick-knacks would be in sort of white background product catalog way. B&H has many fine lighting kits with domes, lights, boxes and backgrounds. I guess I’ll go there some day to pick one up after conferring with surly yarmulke wearing salespeople.

    Meanwhile I headed over to my nearest drugstore and purchased a large sheet of white construction paper. I propped it up against some books on my table, placed the first object to be photographed on it and pointed my daylight reading lamp on it. The trick to avoid reflections is to shoot from some distance with a zoom lens.

    Behold: an 1989 vintage (you can kind of see the date on the label) bottle of imported Soviet Pepsi in all its glory! Still full, and even seems to have some carbonation remaining. I bet for many of you this will bring back some memories as it does for me.

    Also see my posts about Soviet soda and soda machines if you missed them.

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 10:50 am on August 8, 2004 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Glass bottle, , , proprietor, snack food machine, Snapple, Soft drink, , , , Vending machines   

    Close To The Machine 

    While we are on the topic of vending machines, I gotta mention  hacking.

    I remember that a trick with a coin with a little hole attached to a string worked on Soviet payphones, but I don’t remember seeing it used on soda machines.  I never tried it. Mr Krabs in a Spongebob cartoon about the origin of Krusty Krab did that, sot it’s probably an international “hack”.

    At UGO one bright person tried to cheat the Coke machine out of a dollar by applying a long piece of scotch tape to the bill  and trying to pull it back out once the machine swallowed it. This broke our subsidized 25 cent machine resulting in an office full of pissed off people. That cost the company a few hundred dollars. 

    Then there was an interesting machine at iXL – one that dispenses glass bottles of Snapple. There are 5 shelves, and glass bottles fall down and somehow surviving. Somebody figured out that that particular machine checked if the bottle fell to the bottom before taking the money. If one stopped the bottle by holding a flap that swings to protect the dispensing box at the bottom, the machine was tricked into thinking that the bottle did not dispense and let the user make another selection. Everything was fine, but one not very bright individual caught one bottle with the flap and proceeded to drop a second bottle from the top shelf directly overhead. The dispensing bin was immediately filled by glass shards and Snapple.

    .

    Some American soda machines have a hidden menu that can be activated by pressing drink buttons in the following order : 4 2 3 1. I activated it once by accident (the dang machine was out of everything) and only now found a reference to this online. Some snack food machine can be induced to show its internal temperature, but I don’t know the key combination.

    The company where I work now used to have two presidents at the same time. One liked Coca Cola and another liked Pepsi. Because of that we used to have two vending machines. Now they are both gone and we have only one machine.

    And last is but not least : a weird “hack” that some of my classmates used to trick a proprietor of a soda kiosk in Odessa. They cracked a  broken fluorescent lamp open and rubbed the white residue found inside on a copper 2 kopek coin. The coin became silvery and could be easily passed off as a 15 kopek coin. What’s that white residue? Deadly mercury.

     
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