What’s In A Vending Machine In China?
Alyx K. dares to find out. She eats strange candy so you don’t have to.
I’ve been meaning to review these Chinese tasty-cakes since January. They’re souvenirs from a conference in China, and the packaging is mostly not translated into English, the smell of sugar coming off the plate in front of me is enough alone to rot one’s teeth and the bland brownish tones leave much to be desired. But, if you remember my review of Zagreb’s vending machine fare, none of these facts necessarily means the snacks are going to be bad. Without further ado, here’s a Chinese sugar-high sampler.
Product of Lusan Foods. The following appears on the package:
“PURE MILK HIGH FOODS HIGH ENJOYMENT / Super High Foodstuff Choiceness Raw Material Produced Meticulous A Present First Choose Best Enjoyment.”
With a ringing endorsement like that, how can you go wrong? This is two vanilla-ish wafers with white cream in between. The ingredient list is solely in Chinese so I can’t tell you more than that. About 20 minutes after taking it out of the package, the top bore two distinct fingerprints from where I’d handled it, which are visible in this photo. A glinty sugar sheen can be seen on the pastry. The taste is amazingly bland with a dry cake portion. The cream is of reasonable texture, but the treat as a whole has an odd, sugary-vegetable flavor that does not inspire me to take a second bite. Overall rating: one Tiananmen tank; just get out of its way, that would be best.
Manufactured by Orion, the great hunter of Chinese versions of Italian pastry. A postmark (?) in the top corner of the package bears the English words “NO PRESERVATIVES,” which is probably bad news for me if that 11-11-2004 emblazoned on the front is a ‘best by’ date. The package also suggests “AVOID DIRECT SUNSHINE, KEEP IN A COOL PLACE. EAT SOON AFTER OPENING.” A cross-section reveals a brown dry pastry with thick yellow filling that looks kinda like butter but tastes like nothing of the sort. The pastry has a coffee taste, the center is probably a vanilla sugar filling, and there is no chocolate in sight. I muddled through one of these at work a couple months ago with coffee and it wasn’t half bad, even if its only similarity to tiramisu is the coffee flavor. Overall rating: three Tienanmen tanks.
Lusan Chocolate Pie
Uh oh, Lusan again, this time with their rendition of the Moon Pie. While this one does not proclaim it’s super high foodstuff, it does also profess to be “Produced Meticulous A Present First Choose Best Enjoyment.” Also, they suggest “Please keep it at the cool and dry place and consume it as soon possible.” This one bears English ingredients; perhaps it’s available over here somewhere as an import. Contents are indicated to be “fresh cream, wheat flower, sugar, corn syrup, shortening, vegetable oil, cocoa powder, whole milk powder, whole egg, salt, milk protein, honey.” My review could be summed up in one word: horrid. It tastes like two pieces of bread with a little bit of the bland filling described in the “Cream” review above, then covered in poor-quality chocolate. Overall rating: no tanks, which is a shame because I’d like to see it run over repeatedly. Check ’em out, btw: http://www.lusanfoods.com. Or don’t, because I couldn’t get the site to work at the time of this writing. It’s emblazoned on the back of the bag though.
[indecipherable chinese characters]
Another Moon Pie ripoff, this one a product of the Kumho corporation. Kumho is a name best associated in the US with, I think, tires. I guess I should throw a couple of these in my trunk as spares, then. The logo on the front features a mustachioed chef and the legend “Soft & Sweet Enjoy Original Kumho Pie” (no comment). This is the only one that bears a UPC code, so I guess it is offered at retail somewhere. The pastry also kind of tastes like bread, the same as Lusan’s Moon Pie, but the filling is downright marshmallow-y — interesting dry/chewy contrast. The chocolate is a little greasy but would not be out of place in the Little Debbie factory. No website, but you can contact them at (0532)870-3388 if you like. Overall rating: two Tienanmen tanks, not a horrible showing, but easily avoided.
Comparing my two ventures into foreign food, Southern Europe runs circles around China, snack-wise. China’s an emerging market, but not in this area. Stick to their energy industries or something.