Calling the No 1 spud

By Mike Peters ( China Daily ) Updated: 2015-08-21 07:32:44


Who will ever forget the Fuwa, the lovable "Friendlies" that were the mascots of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing? That fab five (Beibei, Jingjing, Huanhuan, Yingying and Nini) generated tons of excitement for the games-and megatons of merchandising sales. Now I've got your attention, right?

Two years later, the smiling blue figure of Haibao was whipping up enthusiasm for the Shanghai Expo.

Of course, officials in government and industry here understand this. Beijing recently hosted the World Potato Congress, but it was more a festival of agricultural hardware than food-despite some cooking demos and some really big posters of french fries. (China currently imports potatoes for about 60 percent of the fries now sold here, I was told.) But there wasn't a fun cartoon character singing out: "Potatoes! Yum, yum! Let's eat some!"

For this really to work, we need to get people excited about more than just potato dishes like those delicious slivered potatoes dressed in vinegar like they make in Yunnan province. We need people to enjoy the flavor of 'taters as a matter of course, so the don't flinch when potato flour turns up in their noodles and steamed buns.

That's where The US No 1 spud comes in. You.

One potential problem: despite your lovably lifelike aspects, you're ... um, plastic. A little bit unappetizing.

But we can solve that rather easily. Since you already come with so many fun accessories, let's add one more: a small bottle of cologne.

It should smell like french fries.

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