First thing in the morning. I do not want to see the ugly word ‘sarnie’ in a headline. ‘Killer sandwiches on rampage’ would have fitted onto the Standard’s front page perfectly. Nor do I want to read any reference to ‘stool samples’. Just say ‘tests’.
However, the news is essentially good: the fad that was Horng Ryen Jen sandwiches comes crashing to the ground in a cloud of salmonella. They will now take their place in the Overhyped Nothingness Hall of Fame.
The big deal was that some famous star was seen with some of these items. Next thing, everyone has to have them.
From a public-health point of view, the mistake was to position the fluffy white bread and icky filling as an alternative to pineapple cake as a gift that you could bring back from Taiwan for your colleagues and friends. Pineapple cakes, individually wrapped, last for weeks or months. Sandwiches made fresh with egg and mayo, become breeding grounds for bacteria after an hour or two at room temperature.
As a branding concept-theme, they were clumsy and unconvincing. The products are a distinctly non-artisanal minimalist version of the ham-and-cheese slices you get in 7-Eleven, which trace their ancestry back to the inventiveness of a gambling-mad English earl, supposedly. There is nothing ‘Taiwanese’ about them – the idea is just culturally inapt. The retro design of the wrapper is similarly contrived and phony (as in ‘Qing Dynasty sandwiches’). The overall impression is of a Taiwanese company opportunistically trying to emulate a Korean level of slick, cool trendiness, and it doesn’t work. Taiwan does shabby, ramshackle charm. Stick to your strengths.
(A similar dismal fake marketing concept is IFC Mall’s tacky Singaporean ‘Tea WG’, founded in 2008 with an Olde Worlde logo that says 1837 and other pretentious twaddle. As karma dictates, they were sued by a local and long-established ‘TWG’ tea company for trade mark infringement.)
And another fad bites the dust… Everyone has known for years that the ever-tedious Shaolin ‘monastery’ kung-fu theme park much beloved by inadequate Western teenage boys is a sleazy, tawdry money-making scam. But new dirt has come to light about the ‘abbot’, who it seems is even more of a billionaire Buddhist slime-bag than anyone imagined.
Nasty shallow cynical brands die horrible deaths. It is a good day.
Foodie fad from Formosa fades.
Hmmm. In colonial times, this would have been a huge money-making opportunity for British Rail — they had some equally unappealing sandwiches, some actually dating from the Qing Dynasty.
As for the Shaolin abbot, well, to be fair to the old rogue:
1) All religions are sleazy, tawdry money-making scams.
2) Unlike the other sleazy, tawdry money-making scams, you do at least get taught a bit of kung-fu along with all the nonsense.
Lead levels in blood may drop, lead and mercury compounds were used respectively in old fashioned Chinese flavoring/sauces and medicine.
Taiwan has moved on with it’s science in general, used hormone mimicking plasticizer to make slicker tapioca pearls for teas and thicker canned drinks. I recall a few “famous” brand names of oyster sauce in HK were caught using lead less than 15 years ago, it would not surprise me if cheap but harmful sauces are making it into HK’s food supply if gutter oil from Taiwan and China was (and probably still is) found being imported earlier this year.
Talking of overhyped fads meeting their Karmic doom… Must be something in the air!
Thank you for the link to the solicitors’ account of the Tsit Wing – TWG dispute. Assuming that the account is not biased, it would seem that TWG had a weak case but still chose to fight it with QCs from Britain. And the conclusion is: the company has a new name which is as good as, or better than, the old one. Go figure.
TWG is a Singaporean company. In Singapore, I once bought a hat – actually, a very good one – from a shop that claimed to be the East India Company, founded 1600.
[A typing mistake I should not have corrected: ‘chose to fight it with WCs from Britain’.]