Korean

We Tried the Actual Korean Yogurt Drink From 'To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before'

September  5, 2018

“You should watch To All the Boys I've Loved Before on Netflix,” my best friend texted me. “It’s cute.”

So I watched it, and it was cute. Like, really cute. Like, here I am telling you: You should watch To All the Boys I've Loved Before on Netflix because it’s cute.

Based on Jenny Han’s young-adult novel of the same name, To All the Boys I've Loved Before (or TATBILB, as netizens have abbreviated it on Twitter) follows a shy high school student, Lara Jean Covey (played by Lana Condor), whose world gets flipped like a pancake when her unsent love letters end up—whoops—sent.

Like many high school romcoms, it stars a dad-joke dad (John Corbett), sassy little sister, hubba-hubba teenage boys played by 20-something actors, and a probiotic beverage.

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Top Comment:
“My grandparent's place was top of the local Yakult distribution center back when Koreans used to get them home-delivered daily. Ladies would walk around in push carts with coolers containing hundreds of these tiny bottles, and if you get lucky they'd offer one for free with the super skinny straw punctured right through the middle of the foil seal. :)”
— Connie
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To understand why, you have to get in Peter Kavinksy’s Jeep—go on, get in—when he picks up Lara Jean and her little sister Kitty for school. In the film adaptation he tries Kitty’s “Korean yogurt smoothie,” a tiny bottle with a red foil top. Fans were quick to identify this unnamed product as Yakult, a probiotic beverage created by Dr. Minoru Shirota in Japan in 1935. It includes billions of live, active bacteria, including Lactobacillus casei. And sugar!

“Oh wow,” Peter says. “That is really good.”

Apparently when Peter speaks, the world listens. Ever since To All the Boys was released on August 17, 2018—so, less than three weeks ago—Yakult has spiked in popularity. According to Bloomberg, its mention frequency on social media has multiplied, followed by a 2.6 percent climb in stocks.

Like Peter, many Americans are now discovering Yakult for the first time. Of course, lots of people, especially those from Asian and Asian-American households, were enjoying Yakult way before To All the Boys made it this popular:

And some aren’t thrilled that their favorite drink is now the it-yogurt at the supermarket:

I have a feeling Yakult is pretty excited either way.

About that, though. In the book (whose paperback is currently out of stock on Amazon), Han specifically calls it a "Korean yogurt drink"—neither Japanese (aka Yakult) nor a smoothie. When Peter asks Kitty for a sip, she tells him:

“It’s from the Korean grocery store ... They come in a pack and you can put them in the freezer and if you pack it for lunch, it’ll be icy and cold when you drink it.”

Our Senior Editor Eric Kim ran out to H Mart this morning to buy a pack of Yakult for the team to try, only to find that it was—surprise, surprise—sold out. Apparently, the H Mart stocker told him, they were expecting a new shipment of 40 cases today (Wednesday); then the cashier told him they'd surely be sold out again by Friday. This has been happening since the film's release on Netflix.

What he was able to find: a case of the generic-brand Korean version of Yakult, Maeil Biofeel, completely stocked and frozen in the lonely ice cream freezer up front by the cash registers.

"That's the one I grew up drinking," Senior Lifestyle Editor Hana Asbrink told me as Eric rushed in with a pack of the copycat, which we suspect is what Han was referencing in her novel.

We all gave it a taste. Just as Kitty described, it was ice-cold, half-slush and half-liquid.

"Aw, I remember this," Eric said. "It reminds me of my childhood."

"It reminds me of a creamsicle," Assistant Editor Katie Macdonald said.

"It reminds me of medicine," Assistant Editor of Partner Content Erin Alexander said. "But not in a bad way."

Lana and Noah. ❤️ #toalltheboysivelovedbefore 📷: @emmanmontalvan (via @netflix)

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Have you tried Yakult or Biofeel? Before or after To All the Boys? Share your thoughts in the comments!

5 Comments

Connie September 10, 2018
My grandparent's place was top of the local Yakult distribution center back when Koreans used to get them home-delivered daily. Ladies would walk around in push carts with coolers containing hundreds of these tiny bottles, and if you get lucky they'd offer one for free with the super skinny straw punctured right through the middle of the foil seal. :)
 
Author Comment
Emma L. September 11, 2018
That's such a special memory—thank you for sharing this, Connie!
 
Jamie C. September 5, 2018
It's all coming back now. This was my childhood summertime-supermarket-run-with-mom-good-behavior treat. Tasty enough to keep me satisfied but small enough not to spoil lunch.
 
HalfPint September 5, 2018
Yakult & soju = :)<br /><br />Watched TATBILB twice this past weekend. Fun movie. References all my favorite stuff like "Sixteen Candles". Nice to have a teen movie that isn't so angst and hormone ridden. Loved seeing John Corbett, my college crush ;)
 
Eric K. September 5, 2018
Yakult & soju is a classic!