The Mid-Autumn Festival mooncakes are in. The yearly tradition — dating back some 3,000 years — is one of the bigger holidays in Chinese culture, where the holiday brings families together to eat the egg yolk and sweet lotus seed paste-filled pastry. Made to represent the full moon, the traditional dessert has seen some big changes and innovations in the last 10 years alone. While purists would argue that it is drifting further away from its original form, due to the over-commercialization of Chinese holidays, there no denying that brands are adapting for the times in catering to a younger and trendier consumer base.
In the past few years of rounding up the best mooncake designs, we’ve seen the shift from the traditional aluminum tin case to more design and on-brand cardboard packaging — the mooncakes got smaller but the boxes grew substantially. Then came the switch from fillings. Gone was the lotus paste and egg yolk, and in its place were experimental flavors like ice cream, matcha, lava custard, and fudge. It was essentially a fusing of Eastern and Western desserts. As I pointed out in the past, one concern was that after the holiday, the ornamental boxes would often be found scattered all throughout the city streets. And while the boxes are often collected off the streets and recycled as scrap cardboard, you can’t help but feel wasteful in throwing out some of the more ornate mooncake presentations where a great deal of marketing budget has gone into creating them (some boxes contain LED strips, milled steel, wood, and even circuit boards).
If you compare this year’s from five years ago, the change is obvious. Almost zero brands are using traditional mooncakes now and have opted for the bite-sized, artisanal versions. These freshly-baked versions are highly customizable and can be filled with just about any ingredient (McLaren Hong Kong had a Michelin Star chef create a South African abalone and truffle-filled mooncake), but have a significantly shorter shelf life. Believe it or not, some of the factory-made mooncakes of the past could last up to two years before spoiling.
This year, the fashion houses and luxury brands seemed to have received the same memo on upcycling and reusability as many mooncake sets contained aspects that let consumers enjoy the brand outside of just eating the cakes. Porcelain plates and tableware were introduced with names like Maison Margiela, Fendi, Christian Louboutin,
Taking things to another level were offerings from Blackbird Concessionaires Ferrari,
In other food news, take a look inside Louis Vuitton’s Maison Seoul vegetarian pop-up restaurant.