Ice Cream Moon Cakes
One of the most interesting and perhaps most popular version of contemporary moon cake is the ice cream moon cakes. Ice cream moon cakes are a close cousin to the snow skin or crystalline moon cakes.
What is an ice cream moon cake?
Ice cream moon cakes are usually round or square in shape and have the same product structure as traditional moon cakes. The crust is usually made from dark or white chocolate or ice cream of a different color and flavor.
The filling of an ice cream moon cake is usually ice cream of a different flavor and in some cases an “egg yoke” can be found inside. The egg yoke is round and made of orange or related colors to produce the visual effect resembling the egg yoke in a traditional moon cake.
Visually, an ice cream moon cake appears identical to traditional moon cakes. The key difference is the main ingredient, ice cream, used to produce the moon cake. Like the snow skin moon cakes, it needs to be refrigerated. Popular flavors include vanilla, chocolate, coffee, strawberry, macadamia nut, cookies & cream, run raisin, durian and even Baileys.
Moon cake and social changes
The emergence of ice cream moon cake is a perfect case study of culture practices in a state of becoming as opposed to state of being.
Moon cakes are not homogenous or non-changing, timeless food products. Instead, moon cakes reflected regional food preferences in different parts of China. These moon cake traditions were transmitted outside of China when Chinese migrated to different parts of the world. In their new environment, new versions of moon cakes emerged reflecting new food ingredients in host societies and new cultural identities. Examples of these developments include durian moon cake in South East Asia and Nonya moon cake produced by the Peranakans or Straits Chinese in Malaya.
The emergence of ice cream moon cakes is located along this path of continuous material cultural evolution. Ice Cream moon cakes with vanilla, chocolate, coffee, strawberry, macadamia nut, cookies & cream, run raisin, durian and Bailey’s flavors reflect new dietary choices and consumption patterns that have been appropriated by the Mid Autumn culture.
Starbucks, Swensens, Häagen-Dazs ice cream moon cakes
Many of these companies like Swensen's, Häagen-Dazs, and Starbucks do not offer Chinese food items on their regular menu and are international chains from US or Europe. The ice cream moon cakes are offered as specialty and seasonal products only during the Mid Autumn festival.
The importance of Mid Autumn and the central role of moon cakes have created economic opportunity for moon cake producers. This demand attracts both traditional and non traditional players to enter the market stimulating innovative and creative moon cakes.
Ice cream moon cakes are one such invention and the participation of non traditional outlets especially international chains demonstrated how globalization creates new avenues for traditional festivals to manifest itself. Therefore, the emergence and popularity of ice cream moon cakes is the product of the confluence between the east and the west, the traditional and the modern.