Happy Mid-Autumn festival 2010


The other day, I told my niece that I would be eating a moon cake on Wednesday.

She asked, "Why? Is it your birthday?"

For the record, my favorite flavor is red bean paste.

Bonus chatter: The underground economy of moon cakes, moon cake vouchers, and how moon cakes are like fruitcake.

Comments (19)
  1. laonianren says:

    中秋节快乐!

  2. George says:

    Unfortunately I don't see mooncakes in groceries.

  3. Gabe says:

    Does anybody know what the ice cream ones are like?

  4. Mark Knell says:

    For that matter, does anybody know why it's called the "mid" autumn festival, given that it happens so close to the equinox?

  5. Samrobb says:

    My wife is experimenting home-made moon cakes this year.  And yes, red bean paste rocks :-)

  6. R. Bemrose says:

    @Mark Knell:

    That's explained in the first link:

    "According to Chinese lunar calendar, the 15th day of the 8th month is the exact midst of autumn, so it's called the Mid-Autumn Festival."

  7. mikeb says:

    There are a couple things I'm not sure I understand correctly from the article – is it saying that a mooncake costs $50 – $100?  That's some pastry!

    Also, Haagen-Dazs sells these vouchers with a short expiration date ("After the festival's over, all these vouchers will be expired"), essentially expecting that a large percentage will go unfulfilled?  That's quite the business model…

  8. Anonymous says:

    I've never liked moon cakes personally.  The pastry part is thin so it's not that much different from eating red bean paste (or lotus seed paste, one of the other common fillings) straight from the can.

  9. Pierre B. says:

    mikeb: it's not only mooncake and Haagen-Dazs. Most business offering gift certificate make money both ways on them. First by ensuring that whoever receives it will have to buy from their shop, second by knowing very well that some will expire or never be redeemed.

    Interestingly (or not!), Quebec recently passed a law forbidding expiry dates on gift certificates.

  10. Horst kiehl says:

    Mark Knell: Additionally, in a way that could be called "strictly astronomical", the equinox is the middle of autumn (or spring), as in this way the longest or shortest day is the middle of summer or winter.

  11. Geoffrey says:

    Raymond: I went to buy some moon cakes in a Chinatown bakery today, and another customer asked for 红豆沙馅, your favorite. The girl behind the counter said "we don't have any because it's too sweet and it's bad for your health". And so I bought two 双黄莲蓉, which is about 55% cholesterol.

  12. Gouru says:

    Hmmm, is it kosher to substitute a Moon Pie, or Hostess Ding Dong for us Western types?

  13. njkayaker says:

    Pierre B.: There's a third way gift certificates make money: getting money now for product in the future (they are effectively loans).

  14. GregM says:

    Pierre, Massachusetts has a similar law, which also applies to gift cards, and limits the fees that can be charged on them.

  15. Worf says:

    Bleh, I have my moon cakes the unflavored kind (the ones with eggyolks in them, sans yolks. I give the yolks to a more appreciative family member, though.)

    Not one of my favorite treats though. (Not a fan of lotus seed paste nor red bean.)

  16. Archer says:

    Happy Mid-Autumn Day! In Chinese, it speaks 'zhong qiu kuai le'…

  17. Mike Dimmick says:

    mikeb: it's mooncake futures, with no requirement to Exchange For Physical at the end of the contract. That enables the holder of the futures contract to trade it to the highest bidder. The actual suppliers don't have to make all that many real mooncakes, because the obligation is satisfied by the paper mooncakes.

    The crude oil market works much the same way: the price you see quoted on the news are the futures prices. More paper oil is traded than real oil is extracted. Unfortunately the price you pay at the filling station is based on the futures price for crude oil, for futures are claimed to have a 'price discovery' function. This is how oil managed to hit $147 a barrel in the middle of a recession, with traffic levels falling and actual crude inventories climbing. (In North America, gasoline futures are also traded, so the discovered pump price is based on the gas futures price rather than crude oil, but the two tend to move together.)

  18. Cheong says:

    @Gabe: Just think about having fruit icecream blocks be frozen for a few days to mark it real hard, then dip it in molten chocolate to give it a chocolate "shell".

    I know someone who claims to have received so much mooncakes that he have to eat it breakfast-lunch-dinner began from last week. That's pretty unbelievable for me.

    [I can believe it. I received 14 mooncakes this year, and that's just from two people! (One 6-cake box and one 8-cake box.) -Raymond]
  19. Cheong says:

    @Raymond: Yes, I also can believe on the number of mooncake received (actually my family also received 10+ boxes). Just cannot believe he eat mooncake day-and-night for more than one week.

    I'd taken all mooncakes received 1 week before Mid-Autumn festival to food bank, so the volunteers just deliver them to the poors right before Mid0Autumn festival. That makes the amount my family have to consume down to 4 boxes.

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