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“Pepsi Life”: the Supermarket and the McDonald’s

June 14, 2010

Yesterday, I had a wonderful adventure. Sure, by now I’ve started class, and I’ve taken the HBA “Language pledge” to speak no English outside of calls home to friends and family, and I’m overwhelmed by all the information flying at me — in Chinese, of course — I’m still more inspired to write about my adventures in consumerism.

The supermarket and the McDonald’s are fascinating to explore in China, because both are Western imports, yet both have been adapted into the Chinese culture. I spent no less than 90 minutes wandering the aisles of the Chaoshifa supermarket, just soaking it all in. Then, McDonald’s (麦当劳, or “Maidanglao” in Chinese) for dinner, and I took my time there as well.

The Chengshifa supermarket can only be described as sensory overload. As I perused the aisles, there was always someone yelling at me, whether it be the constantly looping loudspeaker announcements (I’m guessing about discounts in the store), or one of the very, very loud salespeople hawking a new brand of yogurt at me. My ears were constantly assaulted.

Yogurt. That surprised me. I thought dairy was rather rare in China, Eastern China at least. But actually, there was a huge dairy section of this market. Interestingly, most of the shelves were covered in yogurt of all types and brands (as far as I could tell), not so much milk, butter, or cheese.

The supermarket also acted as a store for housewares, books, clothes and bathroom supplies (including beauty products), electronics, and so on. I kept discovering new things as I wandered.

There were tons of recognizable Western brands competing with their local counterparts, but all had Chinese packaging, and many had been redesigned for a Chinese consumer. I bought some mint flavored Oreos and some blueberry flavored lays, just for kicks. My favorite Western crossover was “Pepsi Life” socks and underwear, which all proudly displayed the Pepsi logo on the packaging.

“What brand of boxer briefs do you wear?”

“Oh, I’m all about Pepsi. And you?”

The one very Western aspect of the supermarket: no haggling. Almost everywhere you shop in China, you can haggle, but not at the supermarket. There, you must pay the price on the tag as you check out. A huge shift West.

The McDonalds was in many ways just like a U.S. McDonald’s. Certainly, the fries taste the same; the prices are very comparable. However, there are a few big differences:

The menu is much more simple. Ten items on it. The number one: the fish sandwich. Weird. Then, there’s a double cheesburger, and a big mac, and an assortment of chicken things (included very KFC-looking fried chicken).

Also, McDonalds prices, although comparable to US ones, are more akin to a sit-down restaurant than to a food stand. Additionally, most people choose to sit inside and enjoy their meal at a table. Thus, it’s no coincidence that this McDonald;s offers a half an hour of free wifi daily (but only for Chinese citizens, I discovered) and a plasma screen TV.

What does the TV play? The World Cup. The whole McD’s is decked out in World Cup decorations. None of this Shrek 3 nonsense.

This particular McD’s has an outside ice cream stand with a wide array of offerings. No McFlurries, no latte-style drinks here yet. Instead, it’s softserve with bright colored swirl, in lots of flavors. And you don’t even need to step inside the actual McDonalds to get some.

Finally, the McD’s offers delivery! McD’s that delivers? Who’s ever heard of it? I wonder if it’s working out well?

Well, I better get back to studying. Oh boy, there is SO much studying to be done. Thank God my grades don’t actually mater!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Michelle permalink
    June 16, 2010 6:03 pm

    There are a few McDonald’s in NY that deliver! I almost broke down and got delivery from one, but then after checking Yelp for that location, I decided against it. Typical.

  2. Cbuck permalink
    July 21, 2010 12:32 pm

    ok so this post is kinda sad
    you spend your “fun-time” in supermarkets and mcdonalds
    i think you need to get out more… thats really sad if its coming from me

    random fact… mcdonalds used to serve an “oriental burger”. some other fun ones include the mclobster, mccrab, mcafrica (a couple pounds of beef served during a widely publicized famine in africa… america FTW)
    were there any fun variations… mc rice? (im not being racist thats actually a thing, i think)

    i would however like to hear more about the cosmetics in china- perhaps you can share your musings in a future post

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