Monday, 13 July 2015

Time-Tested products from "red" China

Time-Tested products from "red" China

At first, pardon this person for featuring this post given that these are made in "red" China. 

Given the almost "Cold War" paranoia due to the recent tensions involving the disputed isles and reefs in the South China Sea, it seems that this post would provoke some criticism: be it deemed as fake, cheap copies of foreign originals, if not defective given the nature of the product being mass produced without any quality control or all for the sake of profit.

The article, partly based from an existing work from Beijing Review, seemed quite interesting for this person to have it reposted and given additional information coming from other related sources about these products. Yes, these are time tested knowing that prior to the influx of foreign goods, China has to rely on its own creation, not because of its brand of socialism, but to show how the Chinese, like its neighbours, able to create products far from the usual description of Chinese goods as limited to porcelain, if not noodles, or any other product that completes the Chinese stereotype.

But come to think of this, how come these products be well-known to the extent of having it exported or even imitated as such? One would say that they copied familiar brands like Japan's Sony and Seiko, Germany's Nivea, Singer Sewing Machines, and even Nike; yet these products were eventually being exported, sold in friendship stores, if not given as gifts to dignitaries, that somehow signifies how a once backward country of Queues, Chow Mieng, and Porcelain had afforded to manufacture as such.

Pehchaolin Cream

The Pehchaolin (Hundred Sparrows) Cream was first produced in 1931, and it was based on a German formula (most likely from Beiersdorf's "Nivea" that was made several decades ago) and was considered the first generation of modern skin care in China. 

For decades, the cream was a must-buy for many Chinese families as well as a favorite among domestic movie stars and celebrities prior to the influx of foreign beauty products in the late 1990s (that includes Nivea). 

The metal box with silver foil covering the cream evokes nostalgia for many women.

Peony Radio

The brand logo was first introduced in November 1957 (during the period of industrialisation in China), since the peony flower in Chinese culture stands for good fortune and auspiciousness, it  used to be one of the state gifts to foreign guests between 1950s and 1960s, that somehow representing the country's most advanced electronic techniques as well as a showcase of Chinese "self-reliance" under socialism.

White Rabbit Creamy Candy

The brand originated at the Aipixi Candy Factory of Shanghai in 1943 when a merchant from Aipixi tried a milk candy from England and thought that its taste was not bad. After half a year of development, he then manufactured the factory's own brand of milk candies.

The first Aipixi milk candies were packaged using a red Mickey Mouse drawing on the label, and were named Aipixi Mickey Mouse Sweets. As its price was lower than imported ones, it became widely popular among the people, after the founding of the Peoples Republic and its nationalisation, Aipixi replaced Mikey Mouse with the logo that made Chinese and Foreigners recognize that candy. 

 In 1959, it was given as gifts for the 10th anniversary of the National Day celebration, and in 1972, then Premier Zhou Enlai used White Rabbit candies as a gift to American President Richard Nixon when the latter visited China (and its subsequent opening of diplomatic relations). 

White Rabbit sweets have been advertised with the slogan, “Seven White Rabbit candies is equivalent to one cup of milk“, and positioned as a nutritional product in addition to being a sweet. The candies hence accompanied the growth of a generation. Former students of the early Deng Xiaoping era in China (1978 to the early 1990s), have been reported to have taken this slogan literally and made ‘hot milk’ in their dormitory cooking rings by dissolving the candies in a pan of hot water.

Warrior Sneakers

Registered as the Warrior in 1935, they were the hottest shoes in China in the 1970s and remained a status symbol for Chinese teenagers until the 1980s. 

The sneakers somehow similar to those of Reebok and Nike Rubber shoes. Chinese back then would consider Warrior Sneakers as sport if not school or workplace shoes given its quality during that period. 

Butterfly Sewing Machine

Launched in 1966, the brand was created by the Xiechang Sewing Machine Factory, which was established in 1919. Annual output hit 1.4 million in the early 1990s, becoming one of the three most wanted home appliances for newlyweds along with the Forever Bicycle and the Shanghai Watch.

It may find it strange that it was manually operated compared to the electric machines made outside China during those times, if not electrically operated yet its appearance was similar to sewing machines made by Singer during the early 20th century. 1960s technology involves much simple appearance in its gadgets. 

Seagull Camera

Seagull, the oldest camera maker in China, has made 21 million cameras since it was founded in 1958.

Inspired by Soviet-made if not Western-made cameras like Kodak, Seagull may had been China's answer to imported cameras. 

Shanghai Watch

Founded in 1955, the brand is credited with developing and producing the first Chinese mechanical watch. Total output hit 100 million between the 1960s and 1980s, with the highest annual output reaching 7 million, accounting for 25 percent of the domestic market. The watch was a status symbol.

If one may ask, was this also the watch used by higher officials whom used to look for time checks? Socialist countries before often feature watches stressing the importance of time and productivity. 

Lucky Film

Set up in 1958, Lucky Film is now the largest photosensitive materials and magnetic recording media manufacturer in China.

Its appearance may mimic those of Fuji Film, Konica, if not Agfa or Kodak. 

Beijing Television

The Tianjin Radio Factory made China's first black-and-white Beijing-brand television, which successfully received a signal on March 17, 1958, opening a new chapter in the country's television manufacturing industry.

Prior to the introduction of the said Television, by 1952 the principal telecommunications network was centered on Beijing, and links to all large cities had finally been established, that also launched television broadcasts. The first national broadcasts began on May 1, 1958, several weeks after Tianjin manufactured its first batch of manufactured televisions.

Meihua Sports Gear

The Tianjin-based Meihua (Plum Blossom) brand was the first choice of Chinese athletes between the 1960s and 1980s. Marksman Xu Haifeng wore it during his medal ceremony at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, where he won the country's first Olympic gold medal.


Besides these, there are other familiar products which are made in China. Cigarettes like Great Wall or Chunghua has been exported to other countries, so was the Maotai millet liquor that has been served to dignitaries during state banquets. That somehow one would ask how come "red" China had afforded to create products as such? 

Anyways, today's China is all but Apple products and anything the west demanded from gadgets to comsumer goods (such as those from Unilever), if not continues to imitate, reverse engineer, or even adulterate that adds controversy than fame in some of its products. 

But personally? This person has once ate "red" China's well-known White Rabbit, and somehow it tastes good. Thankfully, there's no adulterations like Melanine!