My husband and I spent ten years living in London, and the one of the things I missed most about New Zealand (after family!) was my favourite soft drink, L&P. You’ve probably never heard of it unless you’re a Kiwi or have lived here, but let me assure you: L&P is World Famous in New Zealand (yes, that’s their tagline. It’s certainly memorable, and no one dares disagree with it).
L&P – Lemon and Paeroa
L&P was originally a mineral drink made with natural spring water from the town of Paeroa, mixed with lemon (and, I guess, a lot of sugar). It’s light brown in colour, and I don’t know how to describe the taste—it’s unique. I guess my best comparison is that it tastes like a less sweet version of Pink Lemonade (which is one soft drink you can’t get in New Zealand, and one my kids lap up when we visit Australia or the United States). But it’s nothing like the clear 7-Up or Sprite, or Schweppes Lemonade (which is a cloudy yellow colour).
The mineral spa has been known of for generations, and the early Maori recognised the water for its medicinal benefits. It was first bottled in 1907, and marketed as Paeroa and Lemon by the Paeroa Natural Mineral Water Company. By 1947 it was known as Lemon and Paeroa, which was later shortened to L&P (around the time when Kentucky Fried Chicken was shortened to KFC). It was bottled in Paeroa until 1980, when the bottling was transferred to Auckland (where it is now bottled by the Coca-Cola company). To find out more, click here to visit the Paeroa town website.
L&P has become a Kiwi classic.
It’s currently available in three flavours: original, Sweet As (the diet version, which is my poison of choice), and Sharp As (a sour version that has just as much sugar as the original). It used to be available in Dry, but that has been discontinued—perhaps because it didn’t sell well, or perhaps because they couldn’t come up with a cool name for it. Dry As would have worked.
If nothing else, Dry As describes a lot of Kiwi humour.
The town of Paeroa has embraced its contribution to New Zealand culture.
Many shops on the main street are decorated in L&P colours of yellow and brown, especially the dairies. (In New Zealand, dairies are corner shops selling milk, soft drinks, lollies, ice cream in a cone, milk shakes, and a range of overpriced household necessities.)
They also have the giant L&P bottle, a compulsory tourist stop that begs for a photo, and a visitor centre and café where you can buy L&P ice cream. Personally, I prefer the liquid version.
Have you ever tried L&P?
What did you think? Do you have local produce or drinks that aren’t available elsewhere?