‘Dog poop cake’ pulled from shelves fol­low­ing out­cry

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By XU­JUN­QIAN in Shang­hai xu­jun­qian@chi­nadaily.com.cn

As the say­ing goes, “You are what you eat”. And ac­cord­ing to a man­u­fac­turer of mung bean cakes in Shang­hai, if one eats its prod­uct la­beled “dog poop cake”, you are likely to be “blessed with the kind of luck that would see you step on dog poop”.

While tourists in the city have been in­trigued by the prod­uct, lo­cals are said to be in­dig­nant that the man­u­fac­turer is call­ing it “a spe­cialty of Shang­hai”, lead­ing to pro­duc­tion of the cake be­ing sus­pended and the prod­uct be­ing pulled from shelves since Wed­nes­day, af­ter re­ceiv­ing wide me­dia at­ten­tion.

“I don’t get it. I just want to be in­no­va­tive, which is sup­posed to be en­cour­aged,” said Zhang Neirong, owner and man­ager of Shang­hai Fengdu Food Co, which be­gan la­bel­ing its sig­na­ture mung bean cakes as “dog poop cake” this year.

Zhang said that due to over­whelm­ing crit­i­cism and pres­sure, he has with­drawn the prod­uct from his part­ner­ing food stores in Shang­hai.

He has also stopped pro­duc­ingthe cake’ s pack­ag­ing—a linen bag and a post-it-size la­bel that reads, “Sa­vor the dog poop cake, en­joy the luck of step­ping on dog poop” on a back­ground fea­tur­ing Shang­hai’s sky­line.

The mung bean cakes in­side look and taste no dif­fer­ent from the reg­u­lar of­fer­ings preva­lent at the city’s food stores and su­per­mar­kets. But the price, 42 yuan ($6.2) for 200 grams, is al­most twice the av­er­age price.

A shop as­sis­tant work­ing at a spe­cialty store near the Bund, who re­fused to be named, said shop­pers in­trigued by the cakes are not usu­ally con­cerned by the price, adding that more than 90 per­cent of pur­chases at her shop are made by tourists.

On Tues­day last week, a lo­cal news­pa­per pub­lished a front­page ar­ti­cle about how the cakes have been la­beled a spe­cialty, and ques­tioned whether the prod­uct is cre­ative or vul­gar. The report quoted his­to­ri­ans and food crit­ics slam­ming such la­bel­ing of the cakes, al­though the govern­ment said there is no law or reg­u­la­tions defin­ing the city’s “spe­cialty food”.

Zhang said he re­named his mung­bean cakes af­ter learn­ing that a spe­cialty in Sichu an prov­ince is “dog poop candy ”, while stat­ing on his pack­ag­ing that “dog poop cake” is a spe­cialty of Shang­hai to drive up sales.

Made of yel­low bean and peanuts, “dog poop candy”, a spe­cialty of Ya’an, Sichuan prov­ince, is be­lieved to have gained its pe­cu­liar name be­cause of its shape and color.

YIN LIQIN / FOR CHINA DAILY

‘Dog poop cake’ is pic­tured at a spe­cialty store on Shang­hai’s Nan­jing Road last month.

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