On Moon Cake Economics
13 Sep 2011
Photos of Shanghai residents lining up to buy moon cakes (月饼), rain or shine (but always with umbrellas), from Jing’an Temple in the month leading up to Mid-Autumn Festival:
I’m not going to say much on economics, but this whole “moon cake economy” thing strikes me as quite interesting. While in a taxi the other night, a guest on a radio talk show made some interesting points:
1. The value of moon cake coupons has exceeded the value of the moon cakes themselves.
2. Some people eat moon cakes, but a lot of people just pass them around, gifting and regifting. (The actual quote was: “买的不吃，吃的不买,” literally, “those who buy them, don’t eat them, and those who eat them don’t buy them.”)
3. As the moon cake economy evolves, more and more products are being used as substitutes, such as ice cream moon cakes, soft mochi moon cakes, non-traditional cake as moon cakes, etc.
It’ll be interesting to see where this tradition goes in the next ten years. Will the Chinese try hard to preserve it as is, or will they morph into into something else?