TOKYO -- Japanese researchers stumbled upon a can of Coke and packs of chewing gum that had been frozen in Antarctica for more than 50 years, and have brought the items back to Japan.
The Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition's wintering team discovered the can of Coca-Cola and Lotte Co.'s Cool Mint Chewing Gum in September 2020. The items were taken to Antarctica by an expedition team more than half a century ago, and their rare package designs do not exist anymore. A ceremony to give the goods back to each manufacturer was held at the National Institute of Polar Research in the city of Tachikawa in Tokyo on April 15, and participants celebrated the return of the products.
The Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition's 61st wintering team, which conducted missions between November 2019 and February 2021, made the discovery. Four team members happened to find a cardboard box, with the words "emergency food" written on it, buried in snow while they were making a route for crustal movement observations at a place called "Mukaiiwa" about 5 kilometers east of Japan's Showa Station on the Antarctic continent.
Inside the box were items including a can of Coke, packs of Cool Mint gum, canned stewed food and canned tangerine fruit. Though it is unclear exactly when the goods were brought there, the Coca-Cola can design was of the first canned version launched in Japan in 1965, and members of expeditions after the 7th team, which were stationed there at the time, are apparently believed to have brought the items to Antarctic.
The can is not a pull-top, but a rare type that requires an opener, which even Coca-Cola (Japan) Co. no longer keeps. Yellow Japanese katakana characters for "Coca-Cola" are printed vertically on a red background.
According to Lotte, as the Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition originally asked the company to develop the Cool Mint gum, a penguin's illustration, which symbolizes Antarctica, and a yellow crescent moon were printed on a green background for its first package design, which debuted in the 1960s -- since then the gums' designs have been themed on Antarctica. A representative at Lotte said that they will analyze in detail the state of the gum at the firm's laboratory.
Yuichi Aoyama, leader of the 61st wintering team, who carried a container with the items to a ceremony on April 15 in Tokyo, gave the can of Coca-Cola and the packs of Cool Mint Chewing Gum to their respective manufacturers.
Akino Sasaki, a member of Coca-Cola Japan's marketing department, who received the can, said: "I was so surprised and pleased to hear the news about the discovery. I want to bring this back to the company and show it to everyone soon. We also want to put this on display at the Coca-Cola museum in Atlanta in the U.S."
(Japanese original by Yui Shuzo, Digital News Center)