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Zhang said that due to overwhelming criticism and pressure, he has withdrawn the product from his partnering food stores in Shanghai.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 producing the 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 front-page 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 mung bean cakes after learning that a specialty in Sichuan 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.