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“Watermelons Will Not Respond to Your Knocking” Sign Goes Viral on Chinese Social Media

A sign asking customers ‘not to tap the watermelons’ in an Italian supermarket has recently caused much upheaval on Chinese social media, where many people think the no “watermelon tapping” policy is specifically directed at Chinese customers.

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A sign asking customers ‘not to knock on watermelons’ in an Italian supermarket has recently caused much upheaval on Chinese social media, where many people think the no “watermelon knocking” policy is specifically directed at Chinese customers.

“Please stop knocking on the watermelons; they will not respond to it!!!” – this is the Italian supermarket sign that has recently caused much amused discussion amongst Chinese netizens. Over the past few days, the Italian notice has become the topic of conversation on Chinese social media as it was shared by netizens thousands of times.

The “watermelon knocking” notice can be seen sticking out of a cart of watermelons in what allegedy is an Italian supermarket. The picture has especially created much discussion since multiple Chinese media reported it was a notice specifically aimed at Chinese customers.

Many netizens, however, do not believe it and suggest that “watermelon-knocking” is a global practice.

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The picture has been posted on Chinese social media by many different Chinese news media with the additional tag “Italian supermarket’s note to the Chinese”. Chengdu Commercial Paper (@成都商报) and Sina Tianjin (@新浪天津), for example, both posted the following blog:

Italian supermarkets set up a sign for Chinese customers: “Dear customer, please do not tap the watermelons again. They really will not respond!!!” If you are there, what do you want to say to the Italian supermarket?

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The Chengdu Commercial Newspaper post alone already was shared 7700 times within a day, and the watermelon discussion continues on many different Weibo accounts. Many netizens find the picture amusing and stress the importance of “melon-knocking” to pick a good melon.

“We have been communicating with watermelons for thousands of years. We can hear their life story with a simple knock”, joked one netizen.

“I just want to say hello. If it does want to not respond, it’s their own business. At least I can show my passion”, another netizen remarked.

Some netizens believe that “watermelon-knocking” is an exclusive practice of the Chinese, and find the supermarket advice unreasonable: “Knocking before eating is the basic respect we show watermelons. Respect, do you understand? No, you don’t understand. Only we from the land of politeness can understand”, writes one netizen.

While some netizens seem to have much fun by participating in the “melon communication” discussion, many other netizens simply want to know the truth behind the news reports, asking: “Excuse me, but which word actually means ‘Chinese’?”

A few netizens are angry at the media for spreading rumors. One netizen writes under the Chengdu Commercial News post: “This is mainstream media talking negatively about its fellow countrymen. I suppose you don’t even understand what is written on the board? (..) Aren’t you ashamed of yourself, using such tricks to attract attention?”

There are also people who are angered that Chinese abroad are often associated with negative things: “When people see anything negative in foreign countries, they immediately associate them with things at home. So deplorable!”

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In the meantime, there has been some clarification about the picture. Chinese media channel iRead (@壹读) stated that the notice targets customers in general, and provided evidence of how knocking is a global practice of melon testing in the form of an American chef explaining that a good melon should “feel heavier than it looks” and should have a “nice hollow sound when you hit it”.

That watermelon-knocking is a serious issue became clear in 2013, when Chinese students developed a special ‘pick a good watermelon app’. The Chinese app, simply titled ‘Listen to the Watermelon’ (听西瓜), determines whether or not a watermelon is ripe based on its tapping sound (SCMP 2013).

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Despite the different online reactions, discussion of the Italian watermelon sign shows that many Chinese are sensitive to how they are perceived abroad. The recent news hoax on Chinese people selling human meat in Africa, or the 2015 news about Switzerland introducing special trains for loud Chinese tourists all became big topics on Chinese social media. Many Chinese netizens have stressed that they are aware of the negative stories surrounding their overseas tourists, and often speak about improving their global image.

In this case, however, Chinese netizens can be rest assured that the watermelon knocking sign is not specifically directed at them. Watermelon knocking is something everybody apparently does – whether or not the melon will respond does not seem to be an issue.

– By Diandian Guo 

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Diandian Guo is a China-born Master student of transdisciplinary and global society, politics & culture at the University of Groningen with a special interest for new media in China. She has a BA in International Relations from Beijing Foreign Language University, and is specialized in China's cultural memory.

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19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Laurent Peery, Oceanside, CA

    June 20, 2016 at 8:01 pm

    It’s like smelling the durian in a Hong Kong night market. It’s something every traveler should do once. Bon Appetit!

  2. Elisa

    June 22, 2016 at 2:37 am

    I am italian, and i just would like to reassure Chinese people that this sign it has been around for a long time on the internet.
    It was not aimed at Chinese Customers.
    We, Italians, we knock on watermelons too. 🙂

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China Food & Drinks

Man Throws Tantrum in Hunan Restaurant Over Food Being “Too Spicy”

“If you can’t handle spicy food, don’t go to a Hunan restaurant!”

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A video showing the angry outburst of a customer at a Hunan restaurant is going viral on Weibo. The incident occurred on December 3rd in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province, which is known for its spicy food.

The man was having dinner with five other guests, who started sneezing after eating some spicy dishes. The man then angrily complained to the waitress that the food was too spicy and that they were not able to eat it. “I’ve had Hunan cuisine before,” the man said: “But this is much spicier.”

Since there was “too much leftover food,” the man asked how the restaurant wanted to solve it, suggesting that they would not be charged for the dishes.

When the waitress offered the guests some free juice instead, the man starts throwing a tantrum, yelling: “You think I can’t afford juice myself?! I just said we have too much leftover food and I asked you how you want to handle this!” The waitress then repeats that she can offer free juice, after which the man aggressively throws a glass on the ground and takes off, screaming “We’re leaving!” to his friends.

The video shows the waitress looking distraught as the guests stand up and leave the restaurant without paying.

One hashtag dedicated to the incident received over 110 million views on Weibo on Saturday (#男子吃湘菜太辣打喷嚏要求餐馆免单#).

Most people commenting condemn the man’s angry outburst and him leaving without paying: “If you want to dine and dash, just be honest about it instead of first putting up such a performance,” one person writes.

“This is just an evil trick to avoid paying,” others say: “If it isn’t spicy, it’s not Hunan food.”

Many commenters said food being very spicy should not be a reason to leave without paying, especially not in Hunan: “If you can’t handle spicy food, don’t go to a Hunan restaurant!”

Another commenter wrote: “Some people think they can eat spicy food, but the real Hunan cuisine is too spicy for them. Hunan food in Hunan is different from the Hunan dishes served outside of the province.”

Hunan cuisine, also known as Xiang cuisine (湘菜), is known for being very spicy. One saying goes: “Sichuan people don’t fear spiciness, Guizhou people are fearless when it’s spicy, and Hunan people fear it’s not spicy enough.” (“四川人不怕辣,贵州人辣不怕,湖南人怕不辣”).

According to Sina News, the man apparently regretted his behavior the next day. On December 4th, he apologized to the restaurant and the waitress. He paid for his bill and also paid an additional 3 yuan ($0.50) to compensate for the broken glass.

The restaurant says the dispute is now resolved, and that no further action will be taken.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Food & Drinks

Hotpot Chain Haidilao Is Shutting Down Over 300 Restaurants

After adding 544 stores in 2020, Haidilao will close 300 locations this year.

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News that China’s most popular hotpot chain is closing down over 300 restaurants became a top trending topic on Chinese social media site Weibo on Friday.

Haidilao (海底捞) made the announcement on Friday evening through a social media post, saying the company will gradually shut down about 300 of its stores. The restaurants that are to be closed are those with relatively low customer traffic and lower-than-expected business performance.

Although the stores will be shut down before December 31 of this year, some of them will potentially reopen at a later date after reorganization. The company also said it would not lay off its staff for now.

Haidilao has approximately 1600 restaurants, of which many were opened in 2020, when the chain added an astonishing 544 new restaurants. In the summer of 2021, Haidilao had a total of 131,084 employees.

It has been over 25 years since Zhang Yong, the owner of Haidilao, set up his first hot pot restaurant in Jianyang, Sichuan, with a mere investment of 10,000 yuan ($1470). It later became the dominant hot pot chain in the country.

Hot pot restaurants, where fresh meat and vegetables are cooked at the table in the simmering broth, are extremely common across China. But Zhang Yong chose to market Haidilao and its authentic Sichuan hot pot with an innovative strategy: high-service, high-tech, and high-quality.

The restaurant is known for giving its customers a free manicure along with snacks and drinks while waiting for a table. The staff is thoroughly trained in providing the best customer service, and Haidilao has introduced new concepts throughout the years to enhance customer experience. People who dine alone, for example, will get a teddy bear to join them. The restaurant also introduced robot waiters and is known for its noodle dancers and staff singing birthday songs whenever there is a birthday celebration.

Want a bear to join you for hotpot? Haidilao’s got you covered.

Over the past two years, however, Haidilao’s table turnover rate shrunk dramatically. The average table turnover rate in 2019 was 4.8 per day, but that number fell to 3 times per day in 2021, with some restaurants only doing 2.3 per day, leading to significant losses for the company’s net profit.

Due to the Covid19 crisis and lockdowns, Haidilao closed its doors in late January of 2020. By mid-March, it started to gradually reopen some of its locations, although they initially offered fewer seats and introduced an increased distance between dining table, that were allowed to have no more than three guests.

Due to the restaurant’s limited tables and increased labor costs, its menu prices went up, much to the dismay of many netizens, who already thought the prices at Haidilao were steep before the pandemic.

In October of this year, the story of a Haidilao customer in Zhengzhou discovering that the 200 grams of tripe he ordered for 72rmb ($11) was actually only 138 grams also went viral on Weibo, stirring discussions on the Haidilao menu prices.

While news about Haidilao closing so many of its stores attracted over 260 million views by Friday night, many commenters agreed that the company should scale down. “The more stores you open, the less you focus on service, the surroundings of the newly opened stores are not up to par, while prices are only rising,” one person wrote on Weibo.

“They’re not making enough money, while their prices were already being pressed down, and still I can’t afford to eat there,” another commenter wrote.

Others also wondered how Haidilao could claim they would not sack their staff while closing down so many stores. “Does that basically mean they’ll wait for them to leave for themselves?”

“When there’s a pandemic, there’s bound to be bad luck [in business],” another commenter writes: “There’s really not much to do about it.”

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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