Friday, September 25, 2015

Moon My Cakes - The Annual Rant!!!

 Well, every year I brace myself for what will be the new fangled flavours for mooncakes. Ta-dah ... last year takes the cake (pun intended). Its Angry Birds mooncakes!  I think its a brilliant marketing strategy, its taking China/HK by the proverbial storm. Is that raining bird shit ... no, its just kids throwing their Angry Birds mooncakes in the air for effect. 
Now we even get Nasi Lemak ones.

This is for the benefit of new readers of this blog who have only been visiting for less than a year.

Each passing year, we get further away from tradition. Is this fusion or variety or just plain stupidity. I am talking about mooncakes. The whole thing marks of a scam.

Who doesn't know that the cost of a mooncake is minimal really compared to their exorbitant selling price. Why do you think almost every restaurant sells them? There must be a global collusion to sell these over priced things - its a Chinese mafia I tell you.

At best, the mooncake festival can be an excuse for family togetherness. The actual reasons and history for how the festival started are pretty flimsy. Its more stuffs of legends and fairytales than rooted in reality. But anyways, since the Chinese culture has no solid God/religion, where everything goes (the world is full of deities and
buddhas as the saying goes), hearsay and stories evolved into things cultural, which in turn becomes tradition, and finally morphs into a marketing extravaganza.

Since it is stuff of legends and fairytales, its not rooted deeply in anything really, and is open for interpretation. It used to be just lotus paste and black sesame. Throw in the egg yolks if you want. NOW you have:
lotus with dried sambal; green tea with pu'er; dragonfruit with blackcurrent; spirulina; the omochis; the ice cream ones; the durian paste; pandan sweet corn; capuccino; yam gingko nut; chocolate strawberry fondue; the various types of skin covers; oreo; chocolate walnut brownie; charcoal powder with wolfberry; Charcoal Infused Mocha Milk Tea; Snow Skin Japanese Potato with Custard; Fragrant Corn with Soft Yolk; Royal Jade Jelly; Nutty Chocolate with Yolk; Snow Skin Raspberry; Bluberry; Snow Skin Silky Vanilla Chestnut; Snow Skin Black Sesame; Green Beans with Cheese; chocolate peanut praline; blueberry blackcurrant cheese; chestnut Japanese jingsa; .... enough already... we are all losing the plot!!! Heck, I can even create an apom balik black sesame eggyolk ikan bilis flat moon cake... its all marketing baby!

Go back to the roots of the tradition. Why do we have Mooncake Festival? Its for family togetherness, its really for the kids ... I remember as kids I loved the festival, the lanterns and candles. I liked that connection, knowing that my dad and grand dad probably played with similar lanterns, similar candles and ate the same kind of mooncakes 50 or 100 years ago. That's the tradition that connects, and the kind you want to pass on to the next generation.

Above: lanterns for sale around Mid-Autumn Festival.

Not that anything about the mooncake thing is true, however, its cultural and it carries values, things we want to pass on - whether the festival is rooted in true events is not material anymore.

Hence, please you bloody marketers,
do not cheapen the tradition. We want the connectivity. I will still want to buy the basic lotus paste or black sesame... and also the baked fish-shapes / pig-shaped mooncake biscuits ... because they all remind me of the past which I longed to remember and the people I do not wish to forget.

Of course, variations is a strong strategy to differentiate in a product/event that has "almost zero veracity" in truth or religious text. You don't find the Catholics changing ONE IOTA of the sacrament through the ages. Hence differentiation will continue cause no one cares, everyone is out to stand out and make money or get the latest "bling".

This year let me give you my HAZE Mooncakes, looks like smog, taste like freshly burnt tropical forest with a strong charcoal aftertaste - happy moonlike festival!!!

Regional variations in China

There are many regional variants of the mooncake. Types of traditional mooncakes include:
  • Cantonese-style mooncake: Originating from Guangdong province, the Cantonese style mooncake has multiple variations. The ingredients used for the fillings are various: lotus seed paste, melon seed paste, ham, chicken, duck, roast pork, mushrooms, egg yolks, etc. More elaborate versions contain four egg yolks, representing the four phases of the moon. Recent contemporary forms (albeit non-traditional) sold in Hong Kong are even made from chocolate, ice-cream or jelly.
  • Suzhou-style mooncake:: This style began more than a thousand years ago, and is known for its layers of flaky dough and generous allotment of sugar and lard. Within this regional type, there are more than a dozen variations. It is also smaller than most other regional varieties. Suzhou-style mooncakes feature both sweet and savoury types, the latter served hot and usually filled with pork mince.
  • Beijing-style mooncake: This style has two variations. One is called "di qiang," which was influenced by the Suzhou-style mooncake. It has a light foamy dough as opposed to a flaky one. The other variation is called "fan mao" and has a flaky white dough. The two most popular fillings are the mountain hawthorn and wisteria blossom flavour. The Beijing-style mooncake is often meticulously decorated.
  • Chaoshan (Teochew)-style mooncake: This is another flaky crust variety, but is larger in size than the Suzhou variety. It is close in diameter to the Cantonese style, but thinner in thickness. A variety of fillings are used, but the aroma of lard after roasting is emphasised.
  • Ningbo-style mooncake: This style is also inspired by the Suzhou-style. It is prevalent in Zhejiang province and has a compact covering. The fillings are either seaweed or ham; it is also known for its spicy and salty flavour.
  • Yunnan-style mooncake: Also known as "t'o" to the residents, its distinctive feature is the combination of various flours for the dough and includes rice flour, wheat flour, buckwheat flour, and more. Most of the variations within this style are sweet.

Victor AY said...

Yeah Mr Dali ! Well said. With average selling price of those at RM10++ a piece, I decided to skip those and go for more traditional mooncake that cost RM8/4 piece. At least, I get to savour some lotus seed and not those fusion type of flavour. Whatever happen to those black colour stuff that looks like buffolo horn too ? It seems to be lost in translation...
MP said...
scam? willing buyer willing seller maaaa LOL. Have to give them marketers credit for their creativity and keen eye for human psychology lah. I guess you're an unwilling buyer like me :) scam? bottled water ... there was an article in the star yesterday Me? I drink B&F Eau Municipale :)
Jason said...
Actually, we are paying RM10++ for HALF the mooncake if we take sugar content into consideration as the sugar content is typically not less than 50% per 100g. I just don't understand why our apa-pun-boleh BN government don't make it compulsory to label sugar content especially toddler food product such as milk powder. I have checked on major growing-up milk powder brands( i.e for those more than 1 year old), none of the manufacturers list the percentage of sugar.
ru40342 said...
Nice topics. well as we all knew the selling price of the traditional moon cake is around rm4-5/piece while the modern moon cake(bird nest, Hong kong silk stockings tea or other bizarre looking moon cake)can cost you more than rm10. These types of moon cakes have basically the same ingredients as the old one except for really tiny peace of bird nest or whatever the flavour is. It's same as wedding dress, birthday cakes, or even dumpling for the The Dragon Boat Festival. They all cost you much higher than they were 10 or 20 years ago. and we accept it well as a modernization process.
clk said...
I heard that some chinese restaurants in some major hotels makes the entire yr profit from mooncake alone as the other revenue don't generate so much income/profit. I still like my "animal biscuits" in the shape of fish or pig...just bought a few "pigs and rabbits" for RM3 each recently.
HollyS said...
i think it's really too much that even MLM companies sell them nowadays. Not to mentioned the ridiculously high prices which comes in various sizes and tastes. They aint getting my business. I would rather spend it on a half tank of petrol for a box.
TK said...
Now our kid got plastic lantern with bulbs & batteries, some with music, but no more fun for our kids. I never like to buy these lanterns for my kids. May be one day the kids will have lanterns like space ships or crystal balls with laser beams shooting out from all angles.
Datuk said...
Neither it surprised me nor it disapointed me when come to the commercialization of our tradition festivals as the evolution were reflected below: i) Demand create its own supply. The festival itself create the demand and supply will follow suit.. ii)Supply create its own demand. As part of a diffrentiation strategy to increase market share and boost up profit margin...the marketer will create a new thing, new taste....all other new...s iii) The needs for diffrentiation are parts and parcel of our human nature. iv) The needs for maintaining the old tradition and nostalgia are only the other side of coin from item (iii) above. v) This is a must journey in our quest for the ultimate well balanced society....the bias toward the materialistic world is just half the journey, not the final destination. Anyway, individual like us still have the choices to choose.....between a wiser consumer and a comtemporary spender. Your choice !


Raison D'etre said...

Used to get some FOC from my granny's next door neighbor.

Alas both of them has since passed on, and with them the tradition of passing over goodies over the fence too are gone.

I wonder if the original mooncake (without any fillings) tastes the same as that of AhNya's?

Born2Reign said...

Why are you surprised?

A glass of water used to be free, now costs 50c to 80c

Buka puasa buffer used to be RM48 per pax, now about RM98 pax

In my days, piano lessons were RM20 per month, today RM100 - 200 p.month

Did I ever highlight that in 1994 the fresh graduates pay was RM1500 equiv to 1.6oz gold,
in 2009 fresh grad pay is RM2000, only 0.58oz gold?

Don't blame the mooncake seller or manufacturer, they are already employing lots of cheap labour.

Blame our Zeti and BNM for printing lots of toilet paper Ringgit and devalue our money to remain "competitive" but unproductive.

Chee Meng said...

Now they are selling mooncakes way before the actual festival date. I find it weird to be eating mooncakes now during the Ghost Month (Chinese July). Cant they start selling at least after 14th July to respect the occassion and to be in the spirit of the festival?

solomon said...

This is smallish in value compared to our car price. Vendors should emphasize more on the value of the festive instead of changing the pastry in the mooncake.

bonny b said...

The Malaysian mooncake scene is regulated by a cartel of businessmen, who meet every year to set the minimum retail price. As we can see, the public is resisting strongly once the price broke above RM10 per piece, as evidenced by the 20% discounts given freely this year. For me, I stopped eating it in protest. A boycott will surely break this cartel.

Present Value said...

Folks, let us get back to the basics of this festival = it's more an occasion for reunion (Dhuan Yuen)with family, rather than on the emphasis of giving away some boxes of mooncake.

Let those businessmen buy up mooncakes in the market as gifts to their customers/clients.

Again, it is a Supply-Demand dynamics.

jeeralang said...

hey, i remember reading this rant last year! thanks for another year of rants and raves.
anyway, hope it's a happy occasion for you, with family and loved ones.

Gorgeous said...

Is it Mooncake Festival or Lantern Festival?

Just because you eat mooncake or play lantern doesn't mean that it is called your kind of festival.

If one bothers to remember how it came about it should be called the Mid-Autumn Festival.

ahsiang said...

yea, it should be Mid-Autumn festival la.
Otherwise we should have ketupat festival, muruku festival, and turkey festival(?).

richard said...

Didn't buy any this year. Agree with you.

Tiger said...

The solution to the problem? Get people to learn how to make moon cakes.