In June 2020, Lay’s launched three Chinese-style potato chips in China, namely, zongzi flavor, stewed duck neck flavor, and white rabbit candy flavor.

According to reports, these three potato chips are joint products, and the cooperative brands are time-honored Chinese brands.

Among them, the co-manufacturer of zongzi flavor potato chips is Wufangzhai, a zongzi manufacturer founded in 1956 and is currently one of the largest zongzi producers in China. Zongzi is a kind of holiday food in China, and people will eat it during the Dragon Boat Festival. It is made of glutinous rice wrapped into cone by bamboo leaves. Glutinous rice contains stuffing, and different regions have different fillings. The zongzi-flavored potato chips this time imitate taste of salted egg yolk and pork stuffing, which is generally popular in southern China. Because the crisp taste of potato chips is completely opposite to zongzi, it can’t provide the mouthfeel of glutinous rice. You can think of it like a potato chip with salted egg yolk and bacon flavor.

From left to right, they are zongzi flavor, milk sugar flavor and duck neck flavor respectively.

Zhou’s Black Duck is a co-brand of braised duck neck taste potato crisps. Founded in Wuhan in 1995, the brand has become one of the most well-known braised snacks brand in China. Its specialties are braised duck neck and spicy duck neck. Braised cuisine is a cooking method that originated in southern Fujian, China. Its cooking process is quite simple — different ingredients (usually all kinds of meat) are boiled in brine with mixed spices. Brine generally contains soy sauce, spring onions, ginger, rice wine, rock sugar, star anise, grass fruit, licorice and other common Chinese seasonings, but each shop has different recipes. The brine will be repeatedly used so that the taste of the ingredients could be fully released, which brings the belief that the older the shop is , the better the taste wil be.

The partner of the milk-sugar-flavored potato chips is White Rabbit, a milk candy designed in 1959 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. It has become a memory of the Chinese mainland and the people of Hong Kong for more than 60 years. In 1972, when then US President Nixon visited China, the White Rabbit Milk Sugar was given to him as a gift.

All the three potato chips are sold only for a limited time in the mainland market and available at online shopping malls like Taobao and, or convenience stores such as the FamilyMart and Lawson, for 7 yuan ($1) a bag.

This is not the first time that Lay’s has sold Chinese-style chips in China. It also launched roast duck tasete and Bobo Chicken flavor in China before. ( Also see: What is Bobo Chicken?)

Chinese-style snacks have been very popular in the Chinese market over the past two years. One of the important reasons is that Chinese people prefer salty taste to sweet compared to other markets in the world. According to Mintel’s Global New Products Database, China is a leader in salty snack innovation, accounting for 11% of global salty taste snacks launches in 2018, surpassing the US (8%), India (7%) and Japan (5%).

This may have something to do with China’s concept of health. Despite sweet snacks tend to have little difference in calories from salty ones due to the use of fats and carbohydrates, Chinese consumers still think salty snacks are healthier than sweet snacks.