FORGET about steamed buns and smelly tofu, and meet the hot new Chinese snack — latiao! The spicy sticks are enjoying their fifteen minutes of global fame.
The cheap delicacy is made from gluten, the stuff that makes bread dough chewy. The stick of protein is spicy and is commonly sold at roadside stands.
The snack achieved international fame recently when an overseas Chinese student posted a picture of his foreign classmates enjoying the snack online.
The snack was once again in the spotlight after it caught the attention of a BBC film crew. In February, the British broadcaster aired a three-part documentary on Chinese New Year celebrations in which the two presenters were seen roaming a typical Chinese snack street, latiao in hand.
“Latiao is the most popular snack for under-25s in China,” one of them said, which seems a little far-fetched, to say the least.
A still from the documentary, which was also posted on WeChat, fueled a sense of online patriotism, with many amazed that foreigners could be so enthusiastic about the humble latiao, which costs as little as 0.5 yuan (8 US cents). #Latiaomostpopularsnack became one of the “most-trending” items on microblog Sina Weibo. Of the top ten “Chinese snacks” offered on eBay, four items are latiao, with prices ranging from US$10 to US$25.
Searching “Chinese snacks” on amazon.com, latiao is the first item to pop up, with each packet priced at US$12.99.
Liu, a Chinese student studying in New York, said latiao had been his favorite snack since he was a child, but after arriving in the United States, he had to buy it on the Internet.
“As time goes by, more of my classmates are beginning to enjoy the snack,” Liu said.
In China, the latiao industry generates an estimated 20 billion yuan, with 10 companies each producing latiao worth over 100 million yuan a year. Production has expanded in recent years.
Min Quanlu, production manager at WL-Foods, a major latiao maker, said that the company used to package the snack by hand. Until five years ago, when demand exploded. Now everything is automated.
“We make 600 million yuan’s worth of latiao each year and employ about 2,000 workers,” Min said. “About 20 percent of our products are sold in the domestic market, and the rest goes overseas.”（英文文本转载自：Shanghaidaily）
fifteen minutes of fame: 指某个人或者现象在媒体上制造的短暂的宣传效果或知名度，也可称为“转瞬即逝的名气”。
chewy: adj.（食物） 耐嚼的，不易嚼碎的;
roadside stand 路边摊