Monday, July 8, 2013

Chinese Twists to American Fast Foods

One of the joys for me of living in China is trying its broad variety of local culinary delights. Since I like much of the food in China, I find it curious when I find myself less accepting of localized American food products, which seems to mostly happen with what could be classified as junk food.

For example, although I have never tried the yogurt-cucumber or tomato-beef flavored Lay's potato chips I saw advertised in Beijing, I did once try Lay's blueberry-flavored potato chips. I stress "once". They weren't really that bad, but I'm not motivated to choose them again. I'll stick with barbecue-flavored potato chips. Or if I eat Chicken McNuggets at McDonald's in China I'll typically choose the garlic-chili sauce. It's OK, but I am almost embarrassed to admit how happy I was when I once discovered a McDonald's in Changsha with some American-style barbecue sauce. It appeared to be a leftover from days long past, but I figured the sauce probably had a rather long shelf life.

To show this isn't just about barbecue sauce, in another case one day late last year at a supermarket in Shaoxing, Zhejiang province, the localized version of an American cookie caught my attention.

boxes of peach-grape flavored Oreos

It had the typical two chocolate wafers, but instead of white cream the filling was peach and grape flavored. I was curious, so I bought a box and tried one cookie. Again, I stress "one" — all I needed to realize that peach-grape Oreos were not my thing. Other Oreo flavors and versions of the cookie can be found in China as well. I have not tried them all, but someone else' review of them can be found here.

Whether it is potato chips, chicken nugget sauces, or cookies, I suspect some of these localized products would have a better chance of appealing to me if I didn't associate them with specific food items I have enjoyed long before (an intriguing issue to me). I can think of exceptions, though. For example, I prefer McDonad's taro pie, available in Hawaii as well, over its apple pie.

And no barbecue sauce is needed.


  1. Is peach-grape a normal flavor combination in China? Or is it as crazy to them, as the American offerings are to this guy?

    1. I'm not sure whether peach-grape is a normal flavor. It wouldn't surprise me to see it in some non-Oreo contexts though. And I don't know if many people are now asking "Is Tinkerbell running the Oreo company?" like the columnist in the video. I had heard about the watermelon flavored Oreos in the US. Too bad there isn't a taro flavored version.