Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Mixing It Up In China: The Ice Stone Creamery Sells Ice Cream With a Familiar Look

U.S.-based Cold Stone Creamery opened its first mainland China ice cream store near People's Square in Shanghai in 2007. Many more Cold Stone stores have since opened elsewhere in Shanghai and also Beijing, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Shenzhen, Suzhou, Tianjin, and Wuxi.

Recently during a walk, I was surprised to see their reach had spread to Zhongshan, Guangdong province, as well. The first time I briefly saw the store, though, something seemed off. When I passed by another time, it hit me. Despite the outside resemblance, the store wasn't actually a Cold Stone Creamery.

Ice Stone Creamery shop (酷石客冰淇淋料理专家 ) in Zhongshan, China

The name of the Ice Stone Creamery store isn't all that seems to have been inspired by the Cold Stone Creamery. Here is the logo for the Cold Stone Creamery in China:

Cold Stone Creamery China logo

The ice cream logos for Cold Stone and Ice Stone aren't exactly the same, but, like the names, the resemblance is rather remarkable. I could recognize the difference only after a direct comparison.

Ice Stone Creamery appears to have an account on Sina Weibo — a Chinese online service roughly equivalent to Facebook and Twitter.

中山Leonidas酷石客 Sina Weibo account page

Curiously, "Leonidas" takes the place of "Ice Stone Creamery" in its name, although "Ice Stone" can be seen in some posted photos. The most recent post, which is from September, 2013, shows a photo of the store I saw before it opened at the Central Power Plaza shopping mall. The account also mentions other locations in Zhongshan.

After recognizing the store for what it was, I felt compelled to give it a try to see how it compared.

inside the Ice Stone Creamery (酷石客冰淇淋料理专家 ) shop at Central Power Plaza shopping mall

In response to my questioning, the server proudly told me they were a local Zhongshan store. They offered a variety of flavors such as cantaloupe, chocolate, coconut, cookie, cranberry, durian, and green tea. For 18 RMB (about U.S. $2.88) I ordered a scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream. Unlike the Cold Stone Creamery, the chocolate chips were already in the ice cream and other toppings were offered only after the ice cream was in a cup.

a cup of Ice Stone Creamery's mint chip ice cream

As I sat down with my ice cream (sans additional toppings), the remarkable placement of a trademark symbol next to the Ice Stone Creamery logo on the cup reminded me of a 7-Eleven lookalike store in Guizhou. But what I was most interested in was the taste of the ice cream, so I quickly dug in. And the taste truly puzzled me. It was difficult to notice any mint flavor and identify what I could taste. A few more not-especially-creamy spoonfuls left me rather disappointed, so I tossed the rest — something I rarely do with ice cream in China (or anywhere).

Last year, an American visited an Ice Stone store at another location in Zhongshan and had a different experience:
The ice cream was great though! It came with toppings, a waffle cone and all! We will DEFINITELY be going back there again.
So perhaps I would have better luck with another flavor or Ice Stone store. Or perhaps Ice Stone hasn't maintained the quality of its ice cream. Or perhaps the person has a very different perspective on ice cream. I don't know. Whatever the case, like with the McDonald's Year of Fortune Burgers, I don't feel especially motivated to give Ice Stone's ice cream a second try.

I don't know whether Cold Stone is aware of Ice Stone and whether there is much it has done or can do from a legal perspective. But I do know that I will later have more to share from China about other imitators and, thankfully, better ice cream.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

A Cool Dog Just Standing Around in Zhongshan

I have seen a number of pet dogs in China. Today in Zhongshan, Guangdong, I met perhaps the coolest of them all.

man sitting next to a small dog wearing sunglassess while standing on a stool

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Dream on a Wall in Zhongshan

A mural about achieving the dream of the Chinese people's "rejuvenation":

patriotic mural depicting some of China's recent achievements with the Chinese "实现中华民族伟大复兴,就是中华民族近代来最伟大的梦想。"
Alongside Zhongshan 1st Road in Zhongshan, Guangdong

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Monitoring a No-Photography Zone

A sign I saw today at a store in Zhongshan, Guangdong, seemed symbolic of a common theme in both China and the U.S.: an expectation to monitor but not be monitored.

sign with words "Here Are Monitoring" and a "No Photography"

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Fang Tang's Caricature World at the Zhongshan Cartoon Museum

The Zhongshan Cartoon Museum (中山漫画馆)
The Zhongshan Cartoon Museum (中山漫画馆)

The Zhongshan Cartoon Museum (website in Chinese) opened just over two years ago at scenic Yixian Lake Park in Zhongshan, Guangdong. The Chinese characters "漫画" (mànhuà) in the museum's name are translated into English as "cartoon". But in a different context on a sign introducing a collection of pieces by Fang Tang (方唐), the characters are translated as "caricature", which captures the spirit of his work displayed there.

Fang Tang, formerly known as Chen Shubin, was born in Zhongshan in 1938 and has achieved national recognition (source in Chinese). According to the Zhongshan Daily Overseas Edition, Fang donated a number of his pieces to the museum because he felt it was a better option than them becoming "rubbish" after he dies. As a whole, I considered Fang's works to be the most striking examples in the museum, in large part due to the topics they covered.

Below are photographs of six examples of his work along with their titles. I would typically take a pass on translating artwork titles, especially without consulting the artist. However, for the sake of providing some context, I gave it a shot, erring on the simplistic side. Titles in the original Chinese are included as well, and dates are listed when possible.

With the exception of "Henpecked Disease", I would not have been surprised to see the below examples as editorial cartoons in an American publication, although a slightly different meaning could have been intended or interpreted in some cases. The pieces provide a taste not only of what Fang wanted to creatively express but also of what he has been allowed to express in China.

Sign introducing the collection of pieces by Fang Tang
Sign introducing the collection

Security (安全) by Fang Tang (方唐) depicting the Statue of Liberty waving a metal detector over people
Security — 安全 (2003)

Give Some Oil (给点油吧) by Fang Tang (方唐) depicting apparent religious/spiritual figures and the Statue of Liberty al in line to receive oil
Give a Bit of Oil — 给点油吧 (1981)

Recollecting (回想) by Fang Tang (方唐) depicting men looking at a caged bird in a deforested area left only with tree stumps
Recollecting — 回想 (1986)

Henpecked Disease (惧内症) by Fang Tang (方唐) depicting crowd of men running away after an angry-looking woman is revealed on a pedestal
Henpecked Disease — 惧内症 (1985)

Worship (崇拜) by Fang Tang (方唐) depicting a man walking by a pointing man standing atop a pyramid of people bowing
Worship — 崇拜

Conviction (信仰) by Fang Tang (方唐) depicting a man impaled by a arrow sign and holding an arrow point in the other direction while also holding a book
Conviction — 信仰

Monday, March 9, 2015

Mr. Beauty

man riding a tricycle-cart past a store named Mr. Beauty
Minzu Road in Zhongshan, Guangdong

Not Letting It Happen: International Women's Day in China

This year's International Women's Day theme is "Make It Happen". As reported in The New York Times, China didn't want too much to happen though:
China detained at least 10 women’s rights activists over the weekend to forestall a nationwide campaign against sexual harassment on public transportation that would overlap with International Women’s Day, according to human rights advocates and associates of the detained activists. . . .

On Friday evening, police officers in Beijing detained Li Tingting, who works under the pseudonym of Li Maizi. Ms. Li has been known in advocacy circles since she started a campaign in 2012 to push officials to build more public toilets for women. She was then a 22-year-old student. Also on Friday, an activist in Guangzhou, Zheng Churan, was detained by the police. The homes of Ms. Li and Ms. Zheng were both searched.
China's number one online search service Baidu also chose a curious way to "Make It Happen":

During the special day in Zhongshan, Guangdong province, I saw a promotion located in front of a shopping mall. I didn't notice any specific mention of International Women's Day, but a display was regularly restocked with flowers which were offered to women:

young man place flowers into the back of a display

The promotion highlighted hair removal services offered by the AIST "beauty hospital". The stems of the flowers helped create the illusion of hair around a woman's lips:

promotion for hair removal service with stems of flowers forming hair around the image of a woman's lips

The promotion suggested that hair removal could lead to increased kisses or could improve one chances of finding a boyfriend. I guess that was their suggestion for how to "Make It Happen".

I didn't notice much else, except that in front of the mall and around the nearby popular pedestrian street, there was an unusually large police presence keeping a close eye on things.

As far as I know, nothing happened.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

A Looney Tunes Sighting in Zhongshan

Who is not a fan of Looney Tunes?

man wearing a Looney Tunes jacket riding a tricycle cart

More tomorrow on the topic of cartoons in Zhongshan, China, though these cartoons will have a far more political aim than Looney Tunes.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Spider-Man and an Ewok: Watched From Above

I have recently noticed a peculiar pattern — characters from popular fantasy and science fiction movies suspiciously watching me from high vantage points as I walk outside in China. Here are just two examples:

a large Spider-Man figure peeking over the top of the Sunshine Mall
Spider-Man watching me in Chongqing

A dog resembling an Ewok looking down from a porch
An Ewok watching me in Zhongshan

Coincidence? You decide. But I am going to keep looking up.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

No Revolutions Today: A Yellow Umbrella in Zhongshan, China

Today I saw something I found especially thought-provoking due to what was being held and where it was being held. In front of me, two young women walked under a yellow umbrella in Zhongshan, the renamed birthplace of Chinese revolutionary Sun Yat-sen.

two young women walking under a yellow umbrella

At a one point, a passing policeman on a motorcycle noticeably jerked his head to look at them, but he continued down the pedestrian street without turning back. No revolutions are likely now in Zhongshan, whatever yellow umbrellas mean across the river in nearby Hong Kong.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

What's An American Name?

In context of news about a state legislator in the U.S. saying "Asian-descent voters should adopt names that are 'easier for Americans to deal with'", I had an online conversation with an American acquaintance about the new names Chinese sometimes choose to use when they come to the U.S. to live, work, or study. I think it could be of interest to readers, so I will share it below.

For reasons of privacy, I have changed two names to Mark and Juan, as well as changed some of names I used as examples.
Mark: I had a student from China that changed his name because he wanted an "American" name. So he called himself Juan. :) I told him that was a nice name but it wasn't an "American" name. We had a good laugh but he kept it.

Me: In the 2000s more babies in the US were named Juan than Charles, Adam, Brian, Steven, Timothy, Richard, or . . . Mark. Seems like the student had it right. :)

Mark: It was still funny and we did have a good laugh. Don't forget, he didn't come from a Hispanic background.

Me: Juan also didn't come from many other backgrounds which have influenced what names are common in the US.

I would agree his name seems atypical for someone coming from China. If I met him, it would catch my attention as well. I suspect the deal here is that for many who come to the US (from wherever) and want a new name, their choice is indirectly or directly impacted by race/ethnicity, not just "Americanness". Your student's choice doesn't fit into how that has often played out, so it stands out to us. I'm curious to know how he chose it.

On the note of unusual name choice... In China, I often meet younger people who, at least in my eyes, have chosen rather creative English names. My favorite is "Spoon".
As always, feel free to share your thoughts.

Monday, March 2, 2015

A Boat Going Nowhere in Zhongshan

A scene at the Nanxia Land Mark (南下新码头) "entertainment city" in Zhongshan, Guangdong:

statues of two men on a boat in front of large Chinese characters and a McDonald's

The red traditional Chinese characters "迎陽" (Yíngyáng) are the name for a nearby community. And it didn't look like the boat would be going anywhere soon.

More tomorrow. . .