China-focused Satire, Social Commentary, Comics and More

Corn Juice for the Masses


Stuff People Ingest Voluntarily episode 31


Before you start accusing us of focusing on the poor, fading laundry as part of our own Antonioni scheme to sabotage the world’s image of an entire nation, let us be clear: we are more interested in the one small bright square so carefully preserved like some tiny peep window into the underbelly of the corn juice craze than we are in the clothesline that hangs below it. Yes, even Chinese people do laundry, and also like to purchase dish towels in strict color themes of vibrant hues. Some things are the same the world over.

Corn juice, however, has not spread so fast as other customs. For those unaware that such a beverage even exists, here is a close-up, courtesy of a long ago post. Old-timey moonshiners and lushes might protest the hijacking of their tongue-in-cheek term for Bourbon, but they would have little claim. Known to a third of the world’s consumers as yumijiang, it is a gritty yellow semi-liquid most likely inspired by the popularity of its cousin soy milk. I anxiously await the day this product appears in the drink machines of American gas stations; that will be the true sign of China’s influence in this world.

Look past the laundry. The gray cement wall, the more recently applied cement patch concealing some unknown opening into an aging household, the striking red spray paint, and fliers displaying numbers in big block letters. What this all means is that soon our neighbor will have to find a new place to hang their wash. That gruesome patch speaks to the temporariness of the structure. Any day now it will be razed to make way for something new, something perhaps grander than gray walls and blue and orange towels.

So why has that square been so deliberately framed for all to see? A migrant worker’s joke? A shortage of cement? A window to the future? Perhaps they have left it there to act as thumbnail to the coming attraction – billboards so ugly and inane that even the most subversive and removed of documentarian would be inclined to turn off their camera and go spend their pocket change. Maybe all of the above are true. And in the meantime that sliver of color acts as a not-so-subliminal message: a glimpse into the joyfully corny world of corn juice – a world of airbrushing and baby-blue sweaters wrapped around Taiwanese models with surgically-modified eyelids. These neighbors of ours may soon be homeless but they are still consumers.

The only problem is, of course, that it is not really corn juice it advertises. It is ordinary old sweetened tea. A product already available in the drink machines of American gas stations, supermarkets, and public schools. Not corn juice but full of corn syrup. A slight difference, in my mind. In essence all popular beverages are corn juice. Coca Cola, Snapple, Dr. Pepper. What yumijiang shows us is that some Chinese entrepreneur has just decided to label their product properly for a change. Here is the business model of the future: Cut the flavor and give the people what they really want – corn.

3 Responses to “Corn Juice for the Masses”

  1. JadeDragon says:

    There is nothing wrong with corn juice. It is tasty actually. Kind of like drinking liquid cornbread or corn chips through a blender.

    Now I agree that its introduction in gas stations in America will signal that China has breached the last frontier.

    Gotta agree with your color coded laundry too. Very insightful.

  2. Robbie says:

    I’m a Guiliner and am very happy to note that Guilin is full of fresh corn juice stands.

  3. I was surprised that China has such good beer – and cheap, too! Other than that, the only alcoholic drink I stumbled across had snakes in the bottom of the bottle and I couldn’t get past my heebie-jeebies to try it.
    To commenter Robbie – you didn’t mention that Guilin is also full of clothes lines! But a very beautiful place to live.

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