Alternative title: Consumer Culture Confusion
I was browsing the snack section at a 7-Eleven in Colorado Springs when my eyes fell upon a product called Feng Shui wasabi peanuts.
There’s something a little … off about this product, and it took me a second to realize what it was. I asked my Twitter and Facebook friends if they knew what was wrong, but didn’t get any responses.
The problem I have with this product is that feng shui and wasabi come from two distinct cultures. Feng shui is an aesthetics system originally developed by the Chinese while wasabi is a traditional condiment of Japanese cuisine (often seen as the hot green paste served with sushi).
I’m trying to think of other products that have so marred the lines between different cultures, like Euclidean crepes or Kaiser’s Own Bangers and Mash.
I suppose Feng Shui wasabi peanuts could be an intentional blending of Japanese and Chinese elements. I was talking with a colleague last week about fusions of food and other aspects of diverse cultures.
On the other hand, this could be a product of pure laziness or lame branding where the product’s creators at the American Roland Food Corp. just threw some names up on the wall and decided the name feng shui sounded all right next to a product about wasabi-flavored peanuts.
Apparently Roland thought highly enough of feng shui to slap the name on all of its Asian food products, including rice crackers and wasabi peas. The rice cracker products include strong Japanese references to nori (Japanese seaweed), Maki rolls (a type of sushi) and wasabi.
I passed on buying the peanuts so I have no idea if the combination of wasabi and peanuts (and “Rice Flour, Sugar, Salt, Wheat Flour, Palm Oil, Corn
Starch, Salt”) are “a perfect balance” as the bag touts.
I’m also curious what actual feng shui practitioners might think about the product and its packaging. Does a product touting feng shui actually follow its tenets?
Somehow, I doubt it.
Photo: The aforementioned Feng Shui-brand wasabi peanuts at a 7-Eleven on Academy Boulevard in Colorado Springs.