“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.
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?”
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!”
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).
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.
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Coca Cola Chicken Wings Are Here! McDonald’s China Introduces Cola Chicken on Its Menu
Add cola, add chicken, and it’s a recipe for success.
It is one of those dishes everyone in China will know of, yet its origins are somewhat murky: Cola Chicken.
Cola Chicken (可乐鸡) is a sweet and sour cooking dish using cola, chicken, ginger, soy sauce, cooking wine, and Sichuan pepper as its main ingredients (the Chinese way).
Braised Coca-Cola Chicken wings are especially popular in China, combining Chinese style braising and Coca-Cola to create juicy and savory BBQ style wings (see recipe).
According to some, Cola Chicken comes from Jinan, Shandong, where a cook in a restaurant accidentally tipped over a can of Coca Cola into a chicken dish, after which he discovered the taste of the soda matched the simmering chicken.
Others allege two Chinese Coca Cola salespersons thought of the recipe first.
Another explanation states that ‘Cola Chicken’ was already made in Western countries, using tomato sauce as one of its main ingredients. The dish then became popular in Taiwan, where the tomato sauce was replaced by soy sauce.
Whatever its origins are: Cola Chicken is hugely popular in China. So popular, in fact, that McDonald’s China announced on Weibo this week that it would add ‘traditional cola chicken wings’ to its menu.
The latest addition to the McDonald’s China menu is a special collaboration between the Coca Cola brand and McDonald’s.
“I love Mcdonald’s, I love Coca Cola, I wanna try!”, commenters on Weibo say: “I absolutely love Cola Chicken wings.”
Although social media responses to McDonald’s Cola Chicken have been very positive, some who have actually tried it out are less enthusiastic.
“I had them, but.. I actually didn’t taste any cola flavor. Are we supposed to soak them in our coke first?” one disappointed netizen wonders.
Others also expressed similar sentiments, writing: “I am confused by how it tastes” and: “I think it tastes really weird, but I can taste the Cola in it!”
But others who tried it are very happy: “I loved them! While chewing, the skin of the chicken bursts open, giving you that feeling of a carbonated drink. And the chicken is slightly sour and sweet, with that hint of Coca Cola.”
The Cola Chicken wings are not the only special additions to the McDonald’s China menu, which also offers “Sichuan Spicy Double Chicken Burger,” “Jumbo Milk Tea,” “Taro Pie,” and “Corn cups.”
Earlier this year, Mcdonald’s China also introduced a Japanese beef rice bowl to its main menu selections.
Many introductions to China’s McDonald’s menu have come and gone over the past few years. Whether Cola Chicken will be one of the items on the McDonald’s menu that’s here to stay is yet to be seen.
Talking about Cola Chicken, a recommendation: the touching and funny short documentary (25 min) ‘Cola Chicken’ tells the story of the Chinese Chen Chen, who works as a tour guide in Spain, and dreams of opening up his own Cola Chicken restaurant one day:
By Manya Koetse
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98-Year-Old Hotpot and Coca Cola Lover Becomes Online Hit
Are hotpot and cola the key to longevity?
This week, a 98-year-old Chengdu resident has become an online hit on Chinese social media, after videos of her and her granddaughter went viral. The popular grandmother loves to drink Coca Cola, eat hamburgers, and is crazy about hotpot – but only if it’s really spicy.
The 98-year-old became an overnight hit because of the videos posted by granddaughter Cai on China’s popular video app Douyin (TikTok), that show the grandmother’s great appetite for spicy food, alcohol, and sweet sodas.
When the granddaughter tries to persuade her grandma to drink less alcohol (“You’ve already had five!”) she’ll pour herself another cup; while dozing off, she’ll still talk about her favorite hotpot with beef tripe; when eating her hamburgers, she’ll eat so fast that her dentures fall out – all moments that were caught on video by Cai.
The woman, who has been nicknamed “grandma foodie” (吃货奶奶), has been starring in her granddaughter’s Douyin videos since August of last year. Since then, she has accumulated a social media following of some 410K fans and has now risen to nationwide fame, with dozens of Chinese news outlets writing about her. On March 4, she became the number one trending topic on Weibo.
On social media, most netizens praise the grandma for her positive attitude. “I hope I can do all the things I love, too, when I reach her age,” some say: “Eat whatever you want, whenever you want, and drink whatever you like, whenever you like.” “Eating good food is the key to happiness,” others write.
Some also see a lucrative opportunity in the grandma’s sudden rise to fame: “She should become a brand ambassador for Coca Cola.”
Granddaughter Cai told Chinese reporters: “I think it’s the contrast that makes her so popular. She drinks Coke, eats hamburgers, loves spicy food, and all that greasy food. She’s leading the life of a young person, and it appears to be very unhealthy. But she still has longevity.”
Because Cai’s grandma does not know much about social media, Cai tried to explain to her that “many, many people” like her a lot. “Why on earth would they like me for?” she replied: “I’m old!”
By Manya Koetse
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