"None of this derives from Buddhism, Thailand’s dominant faith. Placating household apparitions belongs to a more ancient practice generically known as “animism.” The closest corollary in European cultures is paganism, which also acknowledges many spirits large and small.
However, the two belief systems are sometimes muddled together — just as Christ’s resurrection is now mixed up with the Easter Bunny. You may hear Thais muttering Buddhist prayers before they crack open a Fanta for the angels.
“But don’t confuse this with Buddhism,” Jack says. “It’s all about beckoning angels to take care of you.”
Spirit house worshippers will sometimes rest incense sticks inside glasses of water, he says. The incense sticks sold in Thailand are colored red with cheap dye. The dye, he says, sometimes melts into the water, tinging it red and creating a mental association between red liquid and ghosts.
The origins of Fanta’s spiritual aura may be fuzzy, Fukjidee says, but it is now impossible to dim. He cautions Coca-Cola against ever attempting to use its marketing might to sever the mental link between ghosts and Fanta.
“There’s no use,” he says. The link is too strong. Just try sipping a Strawberry Fanta in front of your Thai friends, he says — and brace for the teasing.
“They’ll say, ‘Whoa, who do you think you are? A ghost baby?’”