The Rise of Chinese-style Fast Food: A Cultural Revolution

When I first encountered a poster featuring a “Chinese Burger” with a Gen-Z idol dressed in a qipao dress and striking a kung fu pose in Shanghai, I was skeptical. It seemed like just another marketing gimmick that would fade away quickly. But this time, I was proven wrong.

Enter Tastien, a local fast food chain in China that has successfully captured the hearts and stomachs of Chinese consumers with its unique concept. Tastien offers a Chinese twist on Western fast food by replacing burger bread with bread pockets and stuffing them with traditional Chinese dishes like Yuxiang shredded pork and Mapo tofu. And it’s not just the taste that is winning over customers, but also the modest price tag – Tastien’s offerings cost 30-40% less than its competitors.

The success of Tastien is emblematic of a larger cultural shift happening in mainland China. Dubbed “New Chinese Style” or Xinzhongshi, this movement celebrates and promotes traditional Chinese culture in various aspects of everyday life. From bubble tea served in bamboo cups to modified qipao dresses designed for mobility, the new Chinese style is all about embracing and reinterpreting traditional customs in a modern context.

So, what’s driving this newfound enthusiasm for the new Chinese style? It can be traced back to China’s history of shedding traditional customs during Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution, which aimed to rid the country of “Old Ideas, Old Culture, Old Customs, and Old Habits.” This, coupled with market reforms in the late 20th century, shaped modern China into a receptacle for Western ideas and culture.

However, as China’s economy boomed and its middle class grew, President Xi Jinping advocated for “cultural confidence” and a renewed sense of national pride. This sentiment, combined with rising nationalism among consumers, gave birth to the guochao trend – a celebration of all things Chinese. Guochao now describes not only locally-made products but also those that incorporate Chinese symbols, techniques, or technologies.

Fast food chains like Tastien, Mr. Rice, and Home Original Chicken have capitalized on guochao by offering dishes that are closer to traditional Chinese cuisine. Even international giants like KFC have jumped on the bandwagon with their own Chinese-style brands, appealing to the evolving tastes of Chinese consumers.

As homegrown upstarts like Tastien continue to gain popularity, they are reshaping the fast food landscape in China. While some of us may feel nostalgic for the greasy fried chicken burgers from Western chains, a new generation of Chinese consumers will associate their cultural pride and fond memories with brands like Tastien and the new Chinese style.

In the ever-evolving world of fast food, the rise of Chinese-style cuisine is a testament to the power of cultural revolution and the enduring appeal of traditions reimagined for the modern era.

An FAQ section based on the main topics and information presented in the article:

Q: What is Tastien?
A: Tastien is a local fast food chain in China that offers a Chinese twist on Western fast food by replacing burger bread with bread pockets and stuffing them with traditional Chinese dishes.

Q: What is the “New Chinese Style” or “Xinzhongshi”?
A: The “New Chinese Style” or “Xinzhongshi” is a cultural movement in mainland China that celebrates and promotes traditional Chinese culture in various aspects of everyday life, embracing and reinterpreting traditional customs in a modern context.

Q: Why is there a newfound enthusiasm for the new Chinese style?
A: The newfound enthusiasm for the new Chinese style can be traced back to China’s history of shedding traditional customs during Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution. However, as China’s economy boomed and its middle class grew, there was a renewed sense of national pride and a celebration of all things Chinese, known as the guochao trend.

Q: What is the guochao trend?
A: The guochao trend is a celebration of all things Chinese, not only locally-made products but also those that incorporate Chinese symbols, techniques, or technologies.

Q: How are fast food chains like Tastien capitalizing on guochao?
A: Fast food chains like Tastien are offering dishes that are closer to traditional Chinese cuisine, catering to the evolving tastes of Chinese consumers who have a growing sense of cultural pride.

Q: How is the rise of Chinese-style cuisine impacting the fast food landscape in China?
A: The rise of Chinese-style cuisine, with homegrown upstarts like Tastien gaining popularity, is reshaping the fast food landscape in China. Consumers are associating their cultural pride and fond memories with brands like Tastien and the new Chinese style.

Definitions for any key terms or jargon used within the article:

– Qipao dress: A traditional Chinese dress characterized by its high collar and form-fitting design.
– Kung fu: A Chinese martial art that emphasizes rapid, powerful movements.
– Gen-Z: Referring to the generation born after the mid-1990s, also known as Generation Z.
– Guochao: Chinese term that describes the celebration of all things Chinese, incorporating Chinese symbols, techniques, or technologies.
– Cultural Revolution: A sociopolitical movement led by Mao Zedong in China from 1966 to 1976, aimed at purging traditional customs and promoting communist ideology.
– Middle class: A socioeconomic group between the working class and the upper class, typically characterized by a certain level of education and income.

Suggested related links:

Tastien
Mr. Rice
KFC China
Home Original Chicken