This article was originally writen by the Chinese wechat media Research report on Earth Man (地球人研究报告) and translated by PandaYoo.com after it was licensed. Copyright belongs to the original author and it is forbidden to reprint without permission.
Have you ever seen unopened “condoms” in a restaurant?
It is estimated that many people’s answer is in the affirmative. I don’t know when to start, Chinese restaurants have become the most commonplace to find “condoms” except the supermarket checkout counter.
Some restaurants put a bowl of “condoms” at the front desk, some put a box of “condoms” next to the dishes, and some takeout has several “condoms” stuffed inside.
Of course they are not real condoms — when you open it, you will find that it may be just a piece of a wet towel, a pair of gloves, or a piece of mint.
Many businesses seem to be into this little trick, whether in big hotels or small restaurants, whether eating spicy crayfish or order fried chicken, you can see this kind of “condom-like packaging”. Putting condoms on the dinner table, food and condoms, a pair of seemingly distant combinations, are frequently framed together, creating a sense of abrupt beauty that urban photographers have always dreamed of.
Putting condom packaging on the table also seems to be a unique catering culture in China, and even some overseas Chinese restaurants have inherited this design, treating condom tableware participation as a creative gift.
Why does this trend appear in Chinese restaurants? There is a very strange course of development.
In the past decade, social networks have gone deep into people’s lives, affecting everyone’s food, clothing, housing, and transportation, and sharing their daily food has become an important social activity for many Chinese people.
In order to meet the social needs of people, many creative restaurants also appeared. The so-called creativity here, to put it bluntly, is to be able to “do something strange”. Some can come up with novel dark cuisine, while others can come up with creative decoration.
In 2011, Xiamen opened a very creative restaurant called Yanyu. Its Chinese name literally translates as meeting a banquet, but its Chinese pronunciation sounds like “romantic encounter”.
Yanyu restaurant made its own online celebrity route clear at the beginning of its design. Its founder, Fu Yisheng, clearly defines the target customers as elite people between the ages of 25 and 35, who are young, playful, dare to spend money and like new things, so he strives to make everything in the restaurant novel and creative.
They focus on innovative dishes, introducing the concept of molecular cuisine very early to make a difference. The name of the restaurant has the homonym of romantic encounter, which may give people sexual fantasy. In order to match this exciting and ambiguous theme, the decoration of the whole restaurant is dim, and the curtains should be drawn during the day to create a sense of mystery. The pre-meal drinks are quite interesting and exciting – two bottles of bitter melon juice and passion fruit juice with the appearance of poison in the fairy tale. It’s all part of “something strange”.
Fu Yisheng was also inspired by the Durex brand marketing so he designed a wet tissue that was very similar to the Durex condom, from the outer box to the small package inside was customized in the style of Durex, but the name was changed to the pinyin of Yanyu. Yanyu with condoms also sounds like a perfect match.
At that time, the concept of condoms on the table was very cool, and many customers who came to dinner were impressed by the idea and condom-like wipes became the product with the highest sharing rate of Yanyu. Everyone who came to Yanyu lamented this funny and shy thing in their Wechat Moments
So around 2016, Yanyu developed into the most popular restaurant in Xiamen with its unique style and opened branches in many cities. Yanyu wipes have become their signature product, and many people come to Yanyu only because they want to take pictures with condoms.
Yanyu has conducted several offline marketing activities in Shanghai and Fuzhou, especially recruiting a group of foreign male models to hand out condom wipes to passers-by. Condom packaging is also known by more and more people with the expansion of Yanyu fame and began to be popularized throughout the country.
After Yanyu became the top – level online celebrity, it was inevitable that many colleagues wanted to learn from its successful experience and copy its creativity, and many copycat versions of Yanyu appeared all over the country.
But it was not easy to replicate the success of Yanyu. Yanyu dishes were specially developed by professional chefs and hard to be learnt. Every store had spent a lot of money on the decoration, which was too expensive to learn. Relatively speaking, the easiest thing to learn about Yanyu was probably the condom marketing.
Those fake Yanyu might not bear any resemblance to Yanyu except their name, even the cuisine was completely different, but there must be a very conspicuous fake condom on the table.
If Yanyu’s condom wipes match its ambiguous theme, then in these follow-up stores, condom wipes simply act as a fun thing, occasionally making customers amazed.
Under the imitation of individual offline stores, condom tableware was still a rare idea until favored by the takeout industry, then the condom packaging really blossomed across the country.
In 2016, a famous takeout brand “Call a Chicken” appeared. This is also a brand with Internet genes – all the packaging aims to attract the eye.
The breadth and depth of Chinese give the chicken a variety of meanings, while Call a Chicken is also the pun of using the services of prostitutes. Printed with “SM BOX” on the takeout box, disposable gloves for eating fried chicken were made into a condom package, named “extremely thin safety gloves”.
There is no lack of watching points on its menu, such as tonifying spirit devices, chickens without sex, chicken bubble friends, come Shuangfei, I want a full set of smart names, etc., showing their sexual joke to users all the time.
Later, Jiaolegeji was fined 500,000 by the relevant authorities for the bad social impact caused by vulgar slogan and was ordered to rectify it at the same time, and Call a Chicken was renamed “order fried chicken”.
Interestingly, Call a Chicken itself could not avoid the fate of being copied by its peers, and its creativity had also been imitated by many copycat stores. “Call a Chicken” took the copycat company to court, but all the claims were rejected by the court because the commercial logo of “Call a Chicken” itself was not legal and there was no need to be protected by law.
As a result, there were more and more real and fake fried chicken on the market. In this process, the idea of condom gloves was widely used for reference by peers and finally favored by tableware suppliers. Compared with disposable tableware in bulk, condom tableware looked more high-end, hygienic, and had some sex implications, and soon became standard in many fried chicken and crayfish restaurants.
From the most popular restaurant in Xiamen to the street stalls, the idea of a condom has gone through the process of copying, innovating, and then copying, and has been imitated and reproduced countless times. Some people have learned from the inside, some have learned face, and some have only learned condom-like marketing.
Some people thought that the packaging of condoms is too obscure, so they added a variety of sexy words to it. The combination of condom packaging and pulp literature was an important and great innovation in the history of tableware development.
Since then, the development of condom tableware entered the next stage, from individual creativity to a standardized product, people havd recognized the condom tableware itself, followed by a second creation in the packaging.
Many merchants who provide condom packaging design and customization services can be found on the e-commerce platform, which they say can win repeat customers and praise for stores.
However, the fact is that the surprise of condom packaging is fading little by little, and the offensiveness of the off-color humor is gradually growing.
At most, the initial condom tableware wouldcause misunderstanding because of its appearance, but after some merchants deliberately magnified the word “condom” and added the words such as living well, slapping, dating, and so on, condom tableware were even more like sex products than real condoms. Not to mention that some copywriters were so offensive that they were not simply flirting, but had become real sexual harassment.
Condom cutlery has nothing to do with sex, it’s just a tool to attract attention.
But the stimulation becomes numb after a while, and then a stronger stimulus must be applied. Perhaps that is why there are pulp creativities such as dung candy, set candy and sanitary napkin candy on the market.
The line from sexy marketing to disgusting is very delicate. The set cutlery was supposed to be a joke, but the joke was becoming more and more offensive.
There is also a condom restaurant in Thailand where everything except the food is made of condoms. Indoor decoration, table, and chair furnishings are also related to the theme of condoms and sex, and customers will be given a condom before leaving.
In addition to gimmicks, the existence of this condom restaurant is actually the importance of popularizing condoms to the public. Its founder, Michai Willawaya, a former Thai public health minister, has found a sharp increase in the number of AIDS patients in Thailand, but people are ashamed to talk about sex and their knowledge of sexual safety is even more shallow. Therefore, he began to use alternative ways to promote safe sex to people and face condoms squarely.
The name of the restaurant is cabbage and condoms, which symbolizes that in the future, people will feel as normal to use condoms as they eat cabbages. The restaurant keeps food and condoms in the same room in order to break the sense of mystery and embarrassment.
In Chinese restaurants, you can also see all kinds of condoms, which may be wet wipes, gloves, or mints, but they are definitely not condoms.
If you question the shopkeeper with the package, he will probably say, “it is just the cutlery, no need to don’t get it wrong.”