Walmart China talk

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Don't think that a Walmart in China is like a Walmart in America.  Far from it.  Chinese Walmarts carry many products tailored for the local market that you would never find in an American Walmart.

Here are "20 Things You'll Only See in Chinese Walmarts".

I won't go through all 20 of these curious items in detail, but will focus mainly on a few that are linguistically or otherwise of particular interest.

To go along with the Sapporo Diet Water (in the first photograph), we have "meatwater kebobalypse (lamb kebob, hummus, onion flavored)".  This is probably the most arcane -(poc)alypse ever devised, if that's what it is.  Cf. "Pope-pocalypse" (9/13/15).

Next come frozen crocodiles with oranges in their somewhat toothy jaws, "creates full of sausage", and three big Snickers bars packaged together with two free Energizer batteries labeled clearly:

qǐng wù shíyòng 请勿食用 ("please don't eat")

Then we have cucumber flavored Lay's potato chips that are "cool and refreshing" (qīngxīn qīngshuǎng 清新清爽).

That is followed by what looks like high end penny candy.

After that come live frogs huddled together in a slimy mass and severed shark heads with very toothy jaws wide open (on ice), plus a few assorted shark fins.

The "meat floss donuts" without holes are rather perplexing.  The meat floss is not a problem, since we've already covered it in an earlier post:

"Where's the bull?" (6/2/15)

Nor is the word for "donut" that they use:

dōnglǜ 东律 (lit., "east law"), clearly a non-Mandarin transcription.

Cantonese dung1lat1 (MSM dōngshuǎi) 冬甩 (lit., "winter-swing; throw; toss [away / off]; discard")

Other transcriptions for "donut" are:

duōnázī 多拿滋 (lit., "take more this / increase / grow / multiply / nourish / taste / flavor")

tángnàzī 唐纳滋 (lit., "Tang accept / admit this / increase / grow / multiply / nourish / taste / flavor")

Translations for "donut" include:

yóuzhá quānbǐng 油炸圈饼 (lit., "oil fried round / circle cake")

tiántiánquān 甜甜圈 (lit., "sweet sweet ring / circle")

What puzzles me is how they knew that donuts don't need to have holes (in fact, the original dough-nuts didn't have holes — those were added later (I wonder which immortal genius thought of that; the second god in the donut pantheon was the person who realized that you can sell the holes too).

Enough of "meat floss donuts".  Let's move on to "mini watermelons" (the chihuahuas of watermelons).  The Chinese name reads:

tèxiǎo fèngguā 特小凤瓜 (lit., "especially small phoenix melon")

The tiny melon is followed by something of opposite size:

shūshì féilǎo kù 舒适肥佬裤 ("A comfortable fat guy underwear")

A note on lǎo (Cant. lou2) 佬 ("[1] [n] guy; bloke; chap; fellow; man; person (informal); [2] [n] vulgar person; hillbilly")  (from CantoDict).  Although lǎo / lou2 佬 is used in Mandarin, it is much more productive in and characteristic of Cantonese.

The compiler calls it "Peter Griffin underwear".  Sorry, even though his mug is on the package, I had to look him up.

I think that "fatso" is a decent translation for féilǎo 肥佬.

The next item is only in English, but worthy of our attention nonetheless:

Golden Horde
Powdered Horse Milk
The Khan's Choice
Cream of the Steppes
100% Horse Milk — No Ponies

The steppe nomads like horse milk and they also like ovicaprid products, so the next item is:

Báitāng yángzá 白汤羊杂

"Decoction of Sheep Offal" (misread by the compiler as "deception of sheep offal")

The báitāng 白汤 is "clear soup" or "consommé".  They could have called the yángzá 羊杂 "haggis", but few would understand that either.

The parade concludes with:

whole dried squid

bins full of reptile parts

all kinds of different eggs in baskets

big chunks of fox meat that shoppers pick out of bins and put in plastic bags themselves

"whatever this is" (a coat of armor made of small gold-colored plaques)

long, unwrapped slabs of ribs piled high for the customers to take themselves

If you go to a Walmart in China, you'll discover that these are just the beginning of the wonders that await you.

[h.t. John Rohsenow]


  1. Dick Margulis said,

    September 16, 2015 @ 12:16 pm

    A response to your aside about doughnut holes. Yes, the original dough-nut, so called because it was the shape of a nut—that is, without a hole—had a problem. Because of the way it was prepared, the center tended not to cook, leaving an unappetizing raw center. It was indeed genius (whether one person's or several people's simultaneously I can't say) to shape it with a hole. Nowadays we have a better handle on controlling frying temperatures, as well as a better understanding of food chemistry, so we can fry doughnuts without holes and still cook them through. That's why we can make Bismarcks (jelly doughnuts) and the like.

  2. K Chang said,

    September 16, 2015 @ 2:13 pm

    Are the "gold colored plaques" bamboo matts?

  3. cs said,

    September 16, 2015 @ 3:46 pm

    The kind of nut you put on a bolt has a hole..maybe I'll start telling people that those are what donuts are named after and see if people believe me.

  4. j2h said,

    September 16, 2015 @ 4:45 pm

    "Meat Water" isn't Chinese – or even real for that matter – so I doubt that photo was taken in a Walmart in China or anywhere else:

    .. and the horse milk seems to be from an online novelty store called "The Time Travel Mart":

  5. Mark Mandel said,

    September 16, 2015 @ 5:28 pm

    Is it just me, or does clicking on "NEXT>>" just bring up the same page with a different set of ads until you click it again?

  6. Victor Mair said,

    September 16, 2015 @ 6:28 pm

    @Mark Mandel

    It did that consistently for me too, and I went through the whole series about 4-5 times. Rather annoying until I realized what was happening and got used to it.

  7. Sergey said,

    September 16, 2015 @ 7:13 pm

    Speaking of the "essentially awesome" word, I've read the links and noticed that the use of this word and of its variations pretty much mirrors the use of the Russian word for "cunt" and its derivatives (though the Russian word is considered very rude and certainly wouldn't be used on the product packaging). I wonder if this meaning has been picked up from Russian during the times when Chinese were learning Russian and studying in the Soviet Union, or is it the result of a parallel evolution.

    In case if you're interested, the Russian words are "пизда" – "cunt", "пиздатый" – "awesome", "пиздеть" stressed on the second syllable – "to bullshit" (in the meaning of either lie or just talk a lot), "пиздить" stressed on the first syllable – "to beat" or "to steal", "пиздюк" – "asshole" in the sense of an annoying person.

  8. Fluxor said,

    September 17, 2015 @ 2:09 am

    @K Chang: Bamboo mats they are indeed.

    Cucumber is indeed one of my favourite flavours of Lays potato chips. Impossible to track down a bag in any of the nearby Chinatowns here. As for the "cool and refreshing" claim…uh…no.

  9. David Moser said,

    September 17, 2015 @ 3:22 am

    My American students are also slightly aghast at the fermented bean curd-flavored Lay's potato chips.

    For a relevant, but somewhat politically incorrect view, see Tom Papa's observations about Chinatown:

  10. WIll Thomas said,

    September 17, 2015 @ 11:35 am

    The 20-things site set off my anti-virus.

  11. George Grady said,

    September 17, 2015 @ 2:37 pm

    I highly recommend the deslider at for all your slide-show viewing needs. Just enter the url of the first page of the slide-show, and you can see the whole thing at once.

  12. Jeff W said,

    September 17, 2015 @ 4:01 pm

    Just for fun, here are the top 10 Lay's potato chip flavors in China, as least as of 2013, which, inexplicably, does not include the Pepsi-cola chicken flavor for those who like to munch on their beverages. AdAge notes “The product's name is a sophisticated word play. String Pepsi's and Lay's Chinese brand names together, and you get a double meaning: ‘Anything can be happy’ as well as ‘Pepsi can become Lay's.’” (Not vouching for that statement—just reporting it.)

    No deslider needed but thanks, George—that is the best thing I’ve seen in a long time.

  13. K Chang said,

    September 18, 2015 @ 4:10 am

    @j2h — I guess "Mammoth Chunks (in tomato sauce)" would have been too obvious, eh?

  14. Dan T. said,

    September 18, 2015 @ 2:30 pm

    That site also wanted to start up two copies of the same video, with sound, at once.

  15. More Cowbell said,

    September 19, 2015 @ 3:52 pm

    Speaking of strange foods, here's a collection of Wikimedia pictures

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