Momochitl

01 Nov 2011

Over the weekend I met up with Patrick Lin, a former student of mine from ZUCC in Hangzhou. It’s hard to believe that it’s been over 10 years since I first taught him English all those years ago. At the time, I was a 22-year-old kid fresh out of college, and the students in that class were 21. Now he’s married and has a kid already.

After college, Patrick went to Scotland and studied golf course design. He later moved to Beijing, where he applied what he had learned for a while, but apparently got the entrepreneur’s itch and opened a coffee shop in Beijing. (Lesson learned: don’t start with a big coffee shop.) Later he decided to open a business in Shanghai selling gourmet popcorn under his own brand called Momochitl.

Momochitl Popcorn

Anyway, this past weekend I finally made it out to Patrick’s shop and got to try some of his popcorn for myself. It’s imported American corn and ingredients, and it’s good stuff! You can even order it on Taobao if you’d like to try it.

Momochitl Popcorn

I’m proud of a former student for starting his own business in largely uncharted territory. He’s got all kinds of ideas for his business, and I’m interested to see how it grows.

One of the most interesting details for me, though, was the name: Momochitl. It starts out sounding Japanese (“momo” means “peach” in Japanese), but then “chitl” is decidedly un-Japanese and just un-Asian altogether. It sounded Aztec to me. Sure enough, Patrick’s explanation is:

> “In the 16th century, Aztec Indians would use local popcorn as decoration in worshiping their gods,” explains Momochitl owner Patrick Lin. “Momochitl is the earliest word for popcorn.”

“The earliest word for popcorn!” Nice. If you Google “momochitl,” you’ll find that Patrick’s business is already overtaking the search results, but one interesting page is simply the Wikipedia page for popcorn, in the Nahuatl language. Nahuatl is the modern term for the family of languages descended from the Aztecs.

Interestingly, Patrick is marketing his popcorn mostly under the name Momochitl, but if you insist on Chinese, it’s 蘑球 (“mushroom balls”??). If you like popcorn, give it a try!

Share

John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.

Comments

  1. Not 蘑球?

  2. I’ve seen this term in Taipei; I don’t know why it’s called that, but I was disappointed when I found out it wasn’t little puffed mushrooms.

  3. Gymnosopher Says: November 1, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    Nor 爆米花 ?

  4. Hi! Would you be able to help me get in contact with Patrick? I work for a local magazine and am interested in knowing a bit more about the brand.

    Please feel free to email me at the provided email address.

    Best,

    Betty

  5. Aztecs is not the real name of the Nahuatl-speaking people of ancient Mexico, they were called Mexica. The Mexica were the dominate nation in central Mexico when the Spanish arrived. Mexica is where Mexico gets its name. It was some French guy who came up with the idea to name the Mexica people Aztec. And they are not Indian. Indians are from India.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *