I recently read Merry White’s Coffee Life in Japan, a history of the west’s favorite beverage in the Land of the Rising Sun. As with so many cultural imports, the Japanese first entertained a fascination with coffee, then got more serious about drinking it, then made an official place for it in their society, then got even more serious about not just drinking it but artisanally preparing and serving it, winding up with an originally foreign but now unmistakably Japanese suite of products and associated experiences. Having spent a fair bit of time in Japanese cafés myself, I can tell you that the country has some damn fine coffee.
But what about its cherry pie? Only one man could take that case: FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper, the main character of David Lynch’s groundbreakingly strange ABC television drama Twin Peaks. A great many Japanese people love coffee, but no small number also love David Lynch. And so, when the opportunity arose to take simultaneous advantage of local enthusiasm for beverage and filmmaker alike, Georgia Coffee seized it, working in the robust tradition of Japanese advertisements starring American celebrities to reunite members of Twin Peaks‘ cast, reconstruct the fictional town of Twin Peaks itself, and have Lynch direct a new mini-mini-mini-season of the show, each episode a forty-second Georgia Coffee commercial.
The first episode, “Mystery of G,” finds Cooper in the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department, enlisted in the search for a missing Japanese woman named Asami. He and Asami’s husband examine the first piece of evidence: an origami crane with a G on it. The second, “Lost,” introduces two more inscrutable artifacts: a photo of Asami beside a rare roadster, and a mounted deer’s head. The latter leads him to Big Ed’s Gas Farm, where in the third episode, “Cherry Pie,” he spots the car and, on its passenger seat, a mysterious wedge of red billiard balls (which, of course, reminds him of his favorite dessert). The fourth, “The Rescue,” closes the case in the woods, where Cooper finds Asami, trapped and backwards-talking, in — where else? — the red-curtained room of the extra-dimensional Black Lodge.
Every step of the solution to this mystery requires a cup of Georgia Coffee — or, rather, a can of Georgia Coffee, Georgia being one of the best-known varieties of that vending machine-ready category of beverage. The west may never have gone in for canned coffee, but Japan drinks it in enormous quantities. What better way to advertise a Japanese interpretation of coffee in the early 1990s, then, than with a Japanese interpretation of Twin Peaks? Alas, the higher-ups at Georgia Coffee didn’t ultimately think that way, giving the axe to the planned second series of Twin Peaks commercials. Maybe that’s for the best since, as for the actual taste of Georgia Coffee — well, I’ve had damn finer.
Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinema, and the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future? Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.