…because not all of us have our Peking ducks in a row
Most people who are reading this blog about China might want to see weird and funny things – like pictures of misspelled street signs, strange foods, or bizarre cultural rituals. But being Chinese and having lived in China for a while, I’ve become desensitized to most of the things around me. Besides, the Chinese aren’t traditionally known for being progressive in our advertising or product offerings.
However, what I do find supremely bizarre are the Japanese household and food products that are so popular in Taiwan. The Japanese influence in Taiwan is very strong: anyone can go to a Japanese supermarket or Department Store and spend hours trying to figure out what you’re looking at, and what possible benefit this object could bring to your person.
Mam moth Giant Sheet of Seaweed (10-pack)
Finally, something I’ve always dreamed about – a healthy seaweed snack that’s large enough to double as a face mask, in case I get bored eating it.
What drove me to purchase this was the clever name, “Mam moth”, get it – MAMMOTH? – and there’s a picture of a cute elephant mascot on the packaging.
The bag is re-sealable. It says there are no calories. The seaweed is quite tasty and flavored with spices and sugar, then baked. To top it all off, the price is dirt cheap. All for under US$2.00 per a bag containing ten sheets of something boaters can’t wait to disentangle their oars and engines from – a bargain!
Coincidentally, these are the same qualities I seek in a mate.
In case you really ARE tempted to stick the seaweed on your face, the illustrations on the back tell you what the seaweed is really used for.
Mam moth is pretty yummy, but I feel like the insides of my mouth have been slashed by razorblades, as the edges of the seaweed are pretty sharp.
By the way, this is also the only product on this list that’s from Thailand, and not Japan.
Six Soldiers Mochi
I don’t know which branding wizard came up with the packaging, product ingredients and product placement of this candy. But the thought of purchasing a candy called “Six Soldiers Mochi” – where the image on the box is that of a half-bald soldier with a pony tail wandering semi-bare-bottomed in a Japanese version of a wife beater and flip flops does not make me want to run out and buy this product. Did I mention that the “mochi” is chewable seaweed, which is covered with a sugar paper wrap?
I think this is what happened: Our adorable Thai Mam moth with the giant seaweed wrap and the Japanese Six Soldier are duking it out over the world’s limited and shrinking supply of seaweed.
In the picture on the left, Six Soldier is so keen on hunting down and killing Mam moth that he rushes out to battle carrying two samurai swords, but forgets to put on any pants or decent shoes.
He travels two miles before realizing that the draft up his butt isn’t due to his fly being open. But by that time, it was too late to turn around and go home for pants. Besides, he wanted to find and kill Mam moth ASAP, so that he could get home in time to watch the finale of Iron Chef, where Bobby Flay and Iron Chef Hiroyuki Sakai were going to have a showdown over the best way to cook Godzilla.
Neglecting to gear up properly later comes back to bite Six Soldiers in the proverbial bare ass, as he has to battle an angry dolphin, a giant crab-like creature – which got an eyeful when Six Soldiers tried to flee its clutches – and a fox to even get close to Mam moth. (Illustrations on the right.)
Xylish Miss Orange Gum
Xylish Miss Orange Gum is how most men feel their relationships play out. Here, we have a innocuous but intriguing wrapper with a woman’s face and a cartoon bubble that desperately reads, “Open me!” (Above.) The woman appears to be in her late 20s or 30s with clear skin, innocent blue eyes, and rosy red lips. What harm could it possibly do to abide by Miss Orange’s wish?
Once the orange wrapper is taken off, it reveals a beautiful, exotic woman with a huge Afro, earrings bigger than her sunglasses and breasts that are so perky they are practically popping out of her tight Lycra/spandex psychedelic top. (Left.) The breasts just want to rush out of the top, envelope a man in their soft loveliness and declare, “Take me!”
Her clear, blue eyes and smile are all innocence and naivety, but her body and pose speak otherwise. What’s a guy to do?
All you can do at this point is to open the box, which reveals 12 pieces of foil-wrapped orange chewing gum, each one smaller than your nostril openings.
But once you get a taste of what Miss Orange has to offer, you realize she is all flash and no substance. The flavor of each piece of gum lasts no more than 10 seconds, and each piece is so small some pieces get stuck between the crevices of your teeth. You even accidentally swallow a few pieces while talking on the phone.
However, against your friends’ advice, you continue to spend more and more money on Xylish Miss Orange, hoping that the next piece of gum will make all your agony, money, and effort worthwhile.
Finally, you realize that hanging on is futile, and that you deserve more than what Xylish Miss Orange has to offer.
You break off the relationship, but you mope in your darkened apartment for weeks not shaving and wearing the same underwear for days, while Xylish Miss Orange gum wrappers litter the ground and your hair.
You try to think about where it all went wrong and what you could have done differently to make the delicious orange flavor last longer. You go to the grocery store, but avoid making eye contact with the Xylish Miss Orange display.
Another few weeks pass and Xylish Miss Orange is on special – two for the price of one. That’s when you see a schlep of a man lingering at the display, trying to decide whether to buy four or six Xylish Miss Orange.
It’s then that you realize Xylish Miss Orange is the cheapest kind of gum there is – not even in the same class as Bazooka or Trident, or which hardly ever goes on sale. She will turn her attention on any slob who’s interested in her. Finally, it dawns on you: Xylish Miss Orange is just like any other cut-rate gum, like Wrigley’s or Big Red. She isn’t worth it. Dude, you were lucky to get out of that relationship. You really dodged a bullet with that one.
Bath for Cold Sensitivity
What drew me to the Cold Sensitivity Bath Powder was how much I could relate to the cartoon character on the packaging. I can’t remember how many times I have taken a bath, surrounded by precariously-placed, mismatched candles, stood up halfway through the bath, then gave the finger to nobody in particular.
It’s always exhilarating to remove myself from the comfortable, hot water of my bath and let the water on my body evaporate in the chilly air of my drafty bathroom, as I give the finger. The expression on the cartoon character’s face is also exactly like mine, as the shock of the cold air first hits my wet skin.
Sometimes I’d give the finger with my left hand, sometimes with my right, depending upon which hand is holding my scrubby sponge. In other more creative moments I might just thumb my nose or do the wave. And believe me, it always does wonders for my cold sensitivity.
I’m Stronger Bath Salts
After staring at the “I’m Stronger” bath salt for three full minutes, I truly believe I will never understand the inner workings of the Japanese mind, and that we should all be very…VERY afraid….
Here we have some bath salts that are supposed to be “spicy hot”, like red pepper. But of course the ingredients only include:
Ginger Root Extract
What I find most disturbing is the picture on the bag: Does the pepper in the foreground with the fire in the bathtub mean he’s STRONGER than the pepper in the background, which only has yellow sulfuric yellow bubbles in his bathtub? Or, is the pepper in the foreground supposed to represent the anguished face of someone who is taking a bath with the “I’m Stronger” bath salts?
And what kind of person would possibly feel compelled to purchase this bath salt, after looking at this picture? Perhaps this type of anti-marketing marketing will become the norm and future packages of band-aids will have pictures of people with missing fingers and other appendages, and blood spouting from their wounds. Or Advil will be advertised as a hammer that will pound away a guy’s headache. Only time will tell.
UV Arm Protector
Despite all of the Japanese technology that’s currently running the world and beyond, the Japanese have never heard of sleeves.
This is a product that provides your sensitive arms with all the UV protection necessary, while the less important parts of you, such as your face and decolletage, remain exposed to harmful UV rays.
This means that, while your arms and shoulders will look 20-years old – thanks to the UV arm and shoulder wrap – the rest of you will be a scorched pile of wrinkly sagging skin and bones even before you can say, “Six Soldiers Mochi Scored the Sister with the Sexy Sleeves”.
Actually, wearing arm sleeves is very popular throughout Asia, as most Asian women feel that the whiter their skin color, the more beautiful they are. Darker skin is also traditionally considered to be “lower class”.
Women riding scooters often have sleeves built into the handlebars, so that they could slip their arms through the sleeves while riding on their scooters.
It never made sense to me why this part of the body was so important, while the others areas remained exposed.
But the absence of a similar product to protect the face and decolletage has left the market wide open for the Chinese. Therefore, I’m suggesting a modified version of the safety face mask as shown on the left. I’m currently seeking venture capitalists to help me realize my dream of protecting all Chinese from deadly UV rays, so that we’ll always possess our golden, youthful appearance, even though we may be closer to our golden years.
The idea is to adequately cover the head and neck from UV rays. The space-age material from which the headgear is made – tin foil, plastic bags, and recycled take-out containers from Chinese restaurants – ensures that the UV rays are reflected back to where they came from – or perhaps to Japan, where the the Japanese could really test out the efficacy of their UV Arm Protectors.
Face Tightening Bands
Don’t laugh at the Japanese notion of a Face Tightening Band that’s supposed to re-shape your face and prevent your muscles from sagging as you age. This woman on the left was frequently mistaken for Super Saver – the winning horse at the 2010 Kentucky Derby – till she started using this product. Now, this lady won’t take off the band, even to wash her hair. Such is the devotion that a Face Tightening Band user has for this product.
Just so you fully understand the benefits of a Face Tightening Band, I went online and found a Chinese knock off version (with Japanese writing, so you think it’s “authentic”), plus a full description, word-for-word, from the Chinese website:
– High quality product,Brand new.
Get older, the muscles began to relax! Double chin began to appear!
Spend a lot of money to purchase tightening cream does not effect!
3D thin surface belt can be tightened his chin and cheek muscle relaxation to improve the surface shape!
Wear to bed every night, wake up the next day discovered that surface shape by thinner!
This is a very save money and effective product!
Size : 58-62cm
Measurement for Head Circumference
Nose Up Clip (Second Generation) and Japanese Leg Rap
(The products above are self-explanatory and require no further description).
ARG Wrinkle Seat
(Front View of ARG Wrinkle Seat)
(Back View of ARG Wrinkle Seat)
ARG Wrinkle Seat claims its rightful title #1 spot on this list.
First of all, this product is Supremely Racist: all of the other 9 products featured beautiful Asian models or cute animal mascots, except for ARG Wrinkle Seat, which has an aged, deflated-looking Caucasian woman.
After doing a bit of research, I found out how this product packaging came to be. A nationwide casting call was made to find the appropriate model, but the Japanese just weren’t wrinkly enough, what with all the UV Protection and head bandaging going on. And no good-looking Japanese woman in her right mind wanted to be made up to look like a wizened old hag.
The choice finally came down to this Caucasian lady, Esperanza Schulmacher (nee Wang), and a moldy, sagging orange that had been rolling around in the back of the Creative Director’s Toyota pickup for the last 4 months.
However, Management deemed the orange “not lifelike enough”, even after the Creative Director tried dressing the orange up in a lacy, revealing outfit, which showed off the most wrinkles.
When naming this product, “ARG” was chosen, because it was the word that Ms. Schulmacher first uttered upon seeing the preliminary untouched shots of herself after her modeling session.
If truth be known, Management had at first felt Ms. Schulmacher was not “sad or wrinkly” enough to properly convey the beneficial properties of the ARG Wrinkle Seat. This is most evident from the shots of her on the back of the package, where she appears too happy to be the proper user of this product.
Consequently, five minutes before the photo shoot for the front cover of the packaging, the Creative Director was instructed by Management to tell Ms. Schulmacher that her beloved Chihuahua – Ferdinand – was run over by a container truck carrying a liquidated shipment of Nose Up (First Generation).
In an interview for the April 1996 issue of “Howdy, Hello Kitty!” – an English-language publication in Japan that bridges the cultural gap between Western and Japanese cultures – Ms. Schulmacher revealed that, in retrospect, she very much regretted agreeing to the ARG Wrinkle Seat job.
Not only was Ms. Schulmacher the subject of much teasing after the packages of ARG Wrinkle Seat flooded the market, she did not feel that the whole “wretched and traumatic experience” was worth the “US$20.95 and lifetime supply of Six Soldiers Mochi” she was paid.
“That damn chewy candy gets stuck in my dentures!” lamented Ms. Schulmacher. “But it was either the Six Soldiers or that crappy Xylish Miss Orange gum. What’s a woman in her 50s to do! Jobs for women in our age bracket are going to the dogs!”
When I purchased the ARG Wrinkle Seat, which was a whopping US$15.00 – a competitor’s brand (which costs US$20.00) didn’t even bother using a human as the face of their wrinkle cream. Instead, they used a cartoon picture of a bulldog to indicate the wrinkles.
Three made-in-China Things that Almost Killed Me
Wow, this was hilarious. We can’t wait to begin our search for crazy Japanese products while we are living in Taiwan for the next year. So far I’ve only found a few funny named ones including “Jiggle Corn” and “Vegetarian Nut Floss.” The wife has also been amazed at the size of the women’s menstrual pads that look like adult pull ups.
May you both enjoy your time in Taiwan, exploring the world of oversized feminine products for undersized women and dental hygiene for die-hard vegetarians. There are Japanese stores carrying all sorts of things. Have fun!
Enjoyed this read. Wonder how they get even the ideas for these products/ what on earth is the branding section doing with the soldier mochi…
Thanks for stopping by. And yours truly had actually tried one of the Six Soldiers candy, for the sake of the post…and…it’s as tasty as a naked Japanese man seaweed candy with a sugar paper wrap is meant to be.
Reblogged this on lostnchina and commented:
As you ponder this year’s Christmas gift-giving list, here are a few suggestions straight from Japan….
Really enjoyed your writing! Brilliant. You suggested a face mask that protects the decolletage and here in Vietnam, it exists! There’s a suspicious absence of photos found in Google search–this is the closest: http://www.dhgate.com/product/2pcs-lot-beauty-yarn-face-masks-2013-new/161724661.html. Are you still in China?
Thanks for your comment and for the tip on the face mask that also protects the decolletage! And to think, for a little over $5 I can look something akin to a terrorist (albeit a very dainty and cute one). I’m no longer in China, but the memories (nightmares) still crop up from time to time. How are you enjoying Vietnam? How long have you been there?
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Can we buy the Mam Moth Seaweed Snack here in USA? It’s SO good but can’t find them anywhere here! Thanks for your help!
Umm…haven’t seen it around, and I just finished the last of mine – sorry!
Thank you for your fast reply!! You were the only website that talked about it. And we have yet to taste yummier seaweed snacks like this!
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