A cat-shaped protest cookie at Wah Yee Tang bakery in Hong Kong.
Culture

A Hong Kong bakery’s protest symbol: Angry cookies

Jul 23, 2019

Amid some of the city’s largest demonstrations in decades, a bakery in Hong Kong has won over the protest crowd with its irreverent cookies featuring—among other things—an angry cat giving the middle finger and common rallying slogans.

The politicized baked goods at Wah Yee Tang include phrases like “no withdrawal, no dispersal,” “be water,” and a Cantonese expletive that police shouted at reporters during clashes. One line of biscuits was shaped like a cat and inscribed with the words “press freedom.”

Cat-shaped cookies printed with the words “press freedom.”
Cat-shaped cookies printed with the words “press freedom.” / Photo: Roy Issa/SCMP

In the past month, Hong Kong has been rocked by demonstrations against a controversial extradition bill. The proposed law would allow the city to send fugitives to places with which it currently has no extradition agreement, including mainland China, where fair trials are not a certainty.

Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, has since said the bill is suspended, but protesters continue to demand a full withdrawal, using the rallying cry “no withdrawal, no dispersal.” On the streets, they have employed flexible tactics inspired by Bruce Lee’s famous maxim to “be water.”

A mooncake with the words “no withdrawal, no dispersal” printed in Chinese.
A mooncake with the words “no withdrawal, no dispersal” printed in Chinese. / Photo: Wah Yee Tang

At Wah Yee Tang, mooncakes inscribed with these catchphrases have sold like hot cakes. Customers have been clamoring for the seasonal treats since earlier this month, when they went on sale ahead of the Mid-Autumn Festival in September.

“I started making cheeky mooncakes last year,” says the bakery’s owner, who wanted to go by the name Naomi, “but I usually do quirky designs on my products throughout the year.”

In the past, the shop’s tongue-in-cheek mooncakes have included homonyms of Cantonese swear words.

But this year, with the protests spawning a number of witty catchphrases and slogans, Naomi, who runs the bakery with her mother, was inspired to print them on their cookies and cakes.

(Read more: How Pikachu became a Hong Kong protest symbol)

Customers have noted the historical connection between mooncakes and political causes.

A popular folktale tells of Chinese people smuggling secret messages in mooncakes while fighting against the Mongol Empire during the 13th century.

Wah Yee Tang’s storefront in Hong Kong.
Wah Yee Tang’s storefront in Hong Kong. / Photo: Sam Tsang/SCMP

Wah Yee Tang and its staff have promised to continue baking the protest cookies and mooncakes.

In one Facebook post, Naomi said that if the bakery could not make enough to keep the stock on shelves, customers could preorder them for pickup.

Adapted from an article first published in the South China Morning Post.

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