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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.

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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

“A Hundred Reasons to Eat Bamboo Rats”: The Story of Two Farmers Who Became Internet Celebrities

Within days, the vlogs of two farmers using ridiculous selecting criteria for animal consumption racked millions of views.

Gabi Verberg

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In the past months, two farmers called “the Magnificent Farm Brothers” (华农兄弟) have become an internet sensation by vlogging their day-to-day life on a bamboo rat breeding farm in southern China, where these rodents are served as a delicacy. Their propensity to always find a pretext, no matter how ridiculous, for eating their own animals, has amused millions of netizens.

They are China’s most popular farmers of the past year: “The Magnificent Farm Brothers” Liu (刘) and Hu (胡).

It all started a few months ago when the two started vlogging about their day-to-day life on a bamboo rat breeding farm in Ganzhou, Jiangxi Province. The script hardly changes and is loaded with clickbait potential: Hu films his 29-year-old companion Liu doting on a cute-looking bamboo rat before finding an excuse to mercilessly execute and eat it.

Under the hashtag “A Hundred Reasons to Eat Bamboo Rats,” (#吃竹鼠的一百种理由#), with over 160 million views on Weibo, netizens have compiled countless scenes of the duet’s rat-gobbling.

There is no doubt that the comical value lies in Liu’s excuse-making. In one scene, a rat hasn’t eaten for three days due to a depression – Liu, feigning mercy, hastily concludes that he should put it out of its misery by eating it. Be it heat stroke, internal injuries, or some other health problem, Liu’s diagnosis for every rodent is always the same.

Aside from the gales of laughter incited by such provoking scenes, the duet’s vlog has also provided a business boost. In an interview with a local TV station, the two farmers stated that they started vlogging with the intention of turning the bamboo rat into a popular culinary delicacy.

Since going viral, the two farmers have been receiving orders for their bamboo rats from all over the country. The spike in demand for bamboo rat consumption has also benefited the two farmers’ co-workers – according to an article in the China Daily, the wages of other bamboo rat breeders have also increased thanks to the duet’s online following.

But the vlogs show more than just the farmer’s arbitrarily deciding which rat to kill next. To spare viewers, Liu kills the rodent off-screen, after which he resumes vlogging, explaining how to prepare a succulent meal of bamboo rat –marinate the dead rodent, stuff it with vegetables, then roast until cooked throughout.  The devouring of the meat is not left out, as viewers get to see the two farmers tuck into the so-called delicacies.

The false pretexts for animal-killing apply to anything that moves, not just bamboo rats. In one vlog, Liu catches a chicken, saying he’d better eat it since it might have caught a cold from last night’s rain. Ducks and pigs also receive a similar treatment. In some vlogs, Liu’s dogs make an appearance – but these he doesn’t eat (yet).

Netizens’ Reactions

The video channel of the “Magnificent Farm Brothers” on Bilibili, a Chinese video streaming website, has over 150 million views and 2.1 million subscribers to date.

A series of gags and memes have emerged from these viral vlogs. Some netizens joke that their own lives have a lot in common with the tragic fate of the little rodents that end up in Liu’s belly.

The text next to farmer Liu’s head reads “life” (生活) while the character on the rat reads “me” (我).

Others joke that Liu’s tendency to praise his livestock as “beautiful” or “cute” before devouring them highlights the danger of being deemed attractive, to the point where refusing to accept being complimented as good-looking is a necessary survival measure.

(Image below: “You are very beautiful!”, “No, I’m not, I’m really not, I’m not pretty.”)

One Weibo post with over 64 thousand likes reads “these are the scariest moments of my life,” followed by pictures of farmer Liu saying “you are so cute,” “I heard you got wet in the rain last night,” “I heard you got injured,” etc.

The two farmers may have become one of the biggest internet sensations this past year, but they have reacted calmly to their popularity. During a TV interview, the two commented:

At first, we were somewhat afraid that our popularity would perhaps disturb our quiet life on the farm. But fortunately, this is not the case.”

In any case, the duet has publicly expressed gratitude towards their fans, vowing to continue making videos of their skit-like, countryside life.

With animal activists nowhere to be seen, the success of the “Magnificent Farm Brothers” shows yet again the Chinese Internet’s magnetic attraction to gruesome content and irony-packed humor.

Want to judge for yourself? Check out some vlogs (no English subtitles) on Youtube here, here, or here.

By Gabi Verberg, edited by Eduardo Baptista.

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2018 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

BBC: Extreme Eating Trends and the Rise of Eating Disorders in China

The Food Chain by the BBC investigates the rise of eating disorders in China.

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The Food Chain by the BBC investigates the rise of eating disorders in China. What’s on Weibo editor Manya Koetse talks about some of China’s disturbing internet food trends in this recent episode.

The rise of eating disorders in China is the topic of a recent BBC online radio documentary episode (27 min) within the Food Chain series.

The Food Chain investigates the rise of eating disorders in China: is this an inevitable consequence of economic development? And if so, why are eating disorders still all too often seen as a rich white woman’s problem?

In the first of two episodes to explore the rising prevalence of eating disorders outside of the western world, Emily Thomas speaks to women with the illness in China and Hong Kong, who explain how hard it is to access support for binge-eating disorder, bulimia and anorexia, because of attitudes to food and weight, taboos around mental health, and a lack of treatment options. They describe the pressure on women to be ‘small’ and ‘diminutive’, but still take part in the country’s deeply entrenched eating culture.

A psychiatrist working in China’s only closed ward for eating disorders blames an abundance of food in the country, parental attitudes and the competitiveness of Chinese society. She also warns of the dangers of the uncontrolled diet pill industry. From there BBC delves into the sinister world of ‘vomit bars’ with Manya Koetse.

She tells Emily Thomas about the recent craze for live binge-eating among young Chinese women and how some of this is disturbingly followed by ‘purging’. Why do they call themselves ‘rabbits’? And why does no one use the term ‘eating disorder’ when talking about these trends?

BBC also explores the link between the rise of eating disorders and economic development. Does there need to be an abundance of food in a society before these problems develop?

To listen to a short fragment on China’s binge-eating rabbits by Manya Koetse, click here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/play/p06mw03b .

To listen to the full documentary, please click here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/play/p06mw03b.

Also read: Anorexia in China, and our article on Extreme Eating Trends.

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2018 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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What’s on Weibo provides social, cultural & historical insights into an ever-changing China. What’s on Weibo sheds light on China’s digital media landscape and brings the story behind the hashtag. This independent news site is managed by sinologist Manya Koetse. Contact info@whatsonweibo.com. ©2014-2018

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