The Nostalgic Tupperware Parties

Tupperware's party is over
The iconic 77-yr-old company was founded in 1946

I remember my mother attending Tupperware parties in the late 1970s and early 1980s. She'd come back with those plastic storage containers that were frequently microwave safe and that amazing pitcher. Over the years cheap plastic food storage bins with airtight lids became pretty common, and high-quality plastic food storage bins with airtight lids went out of style. Now, decades later, Tupperware sounds insolvent and ready to go under.

In a statement, Tupperware said that its shares were in danger of being delisted from the New York Stock Exchange because it had not yet filed its annual report. It also warned that it had to renegotiate its loans after already amending its loan agreements three times since August 2022. Tupperware said it was struggling with higher interest costs on its borrowings while it attempts to turn the business around.

The company said it "currently forecasts that it may not have adequate liquidity in the near term", adding that it "has therefore concluded that there is substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern". In addition, Tupperware said that its financial results for 2021 and 2022 as well its interim figures in 2021 and the first three months of 2022 had been "misstated" due to how the firm accounted for taxes and leases.Tupperware's share p rice dropped by nearly 50% on Monday.

Tupperware: Why the household name could soon be history
'Tupperware parties' made it an icon during the 1950s and 1960s consumer revolution, and its air-tight and water-tight containers took the market by storm

The brand Tupperware has become so synonymous with food storage that many people use its name when referring to any old plastic container. But the 77-year-old US company is seeing cracks form in the once revolutionary air-tight sealing business that made it famous, with rising debts and falling sales prompting a warning it could go bust without investment. Despite attempts to freshen up its products in recent years and reposition itself to a younger audience, it has failed to stop a slide in its sales.

The firm's 'Tupperware parties' made it an icon during the 1950s and 1960s consumer revolution, and its air-tight and water-tight containers took the market by storm. But its core business model of using self-employed salespeople who sell primarily from their own homes has been going out of fashion for a while, and was retired altogether in the UK in 2003. Now company bosses have admitted that, without new funding, a brand name which has passed into common parlance could vanish from the market. "We use it (Tupperware) as a noun, which is quite unusual for a brand," said Catherine Shuttleworth, founder of retail analysis firm Savvy Marketing. "I think a lot of younger people will be surprised it is a brand in itself." While Tupperware was a "miracle product" when first sold decades ago, Ms Shuttleworth added, the market has been flooded by companies offering cheaper alternatives in recent years. A resurgence during the Covid-19 pandemic, buoyed by people taking up baking and cooking more at home, reversed sharp falls in Tupperware's share price. But the rise turned out to be temporary. Sales have slid again since then, largely because the firm has not been "innovative enough" over the past 10 to 20 years to keep up with its rivals, according to Ms Shuttleworth.

A lack of innovation is a far-cry from its early days. The company was founded in 1946 by a man, the inventor Earl Tupper, but its public face was a woman: Brownie Wise. Tupper's product was a big deal - it utilised new plastics to keep food fresh for longer - invaluable when refrigerators were still too expensive for many - but until Wise came along, it was not selling. She had already started organising events to sell the containers, meeting directly with the housewives and mothers the company wanted to reach, at gatherings which were as much about socialising as they were about business. Her innovative style - and her sales figures - caught the eye of Tupper, and she was promoted to executive level at a time when women were largely excluded from the boardroom. Wise's and Tupperware's impact is still debated by academics, but many say it played an important role in bringing women into the workforce in post-war America, and provided a source of income to other women around the world.

The Tupperware party is OVER! How DoorDash and Grubhub have pushed iconic brand to the brink of collapse
Iconic 77-year-old brand, once a mainstay in American homes, faces cash crunch & pressure from creditors

After Tupperware Brands Corporation warned it could soon go out of business, the iconic company's failure to adapt to modern trends and attract new customers is in the spotlight. Once a mainstay at American dinners and backyard barbecues, Tupperware containers shot to fame through the company's direct-sales model and 'Tupperware parties' hosted in sellers' homes. While the brand's sales briefly surged during the COVID-19 pandemic, as families prepared more home-cooked meals during lockdown, the trend sharply reversed last year as restaurant dining boomed once again.

On Friday, Tupperware disclosed it has 'substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern' in the face of a cash crunch and pressure from creditors, after errors in its financial statements left it unable to timely file an annual report. Experts say financial missteps, the demise of the direct-sales model in the age of e-commerce, and the rise of cheap alternatives - including re-useable containers from food deliveries - may have all played a role in Tupperware's downfall. Linda Bolton Weiser, managing director and senior research analyst for consumer products at D.A. Davidson, told DailyMail.com that Tupperware failed to invest adequately under former CEO Rick Goings. 'They were especially deficient in IT investment,' said Bolton Weiser, noting that the company's free cash flow instead went toward high dividends for shareholders. Goings led the company from 1998 to 2018. Tupperware suspended its quarterly dividends in 2019, after paying yields as high as 8.4 percent. 'They also have failed to fix the basic fundamentals of their core direct selling business,' added Bolton Weiser, who officially dropped coverage of Tupperware's stock last week.

Launched in 1946 by entrepreneur Earl Tupper, Tupperware has long remained reliant on the direct sales model, in which individual sellers buy the product from the company, and then sell them door-to-door or at neighborhood Tupperware parties. In the 1950s and 60s, Tupperware parties and the company's iconic food containers exploded in popularity, and the company expanded internationally, selling in some 100 countries at its peak. But over the years, the direct sales model has generally suffered with the rise of e-commerce, and companies that rely on an army of individual neighborhood sellers have been forced to re-think their business model. Tupperware long stuck primarily to direct sales through neighborhood Tupperware parties, and online sales through its own website, but last June began selling on Amazon. In October, Tupperware also launched a partnership with Target to put the food containers on store shelves, but it appears the new sales channels may not be enough to save the business.

Iconic Tupperware warns it could go out of business
Shares of the iconic 77-yr-old company, founded in 1946, plunged nearly 50 per cent on April 10. PHOTO: AFP

Kitchenware staple Tupperware is teetering on the brink of collapse, with its shares plunging nearly 50 per cent on Monday, the largest drop on record, to notch an all-time low. Investors were spooked after the company said last Friday it had hired financial advisers “to help improve its capital structure and remediate its doubts regarding its ability to continue as a going concern.”

Tupperware experienced a sizzling run-up during the first two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, with its share price soaring to US$37 as the lockdown boosted kitchenware sales. It has fallen on harder times since then, with the company blaming cash constraints caused by higher interest costs. The 77-year-old brand has struggled to shake its staid image and attract younger shoppers in the face of new competition, while demand for home products has fallen. Tupperware said it was working to find financing to stay in business, but that it wouldn’t have enough cash to fund operations if it failed to do so.

It is also working with Moelis & Co. and Kirkland & Ellis to explore options for its nearly US$700 million (S$933 million) in long-term debt. And it’s looking at its real estate portfolio for opportunities to streamline the company and have more cash on hand. BLOOMBERG

The history of Tupperware Parties, Tupperware Ladies & how they sold millions of plastic containers

Starting back in the 50s, women were encouraged to start their own businesses, hosting Tupperware parties, and demonstrating how to use those popular plastic containers. So what were these parties like? Here’s a look back:
  • One night when I saw visiting a friend in Queens, a subway ride from Times Square, my hostess took me down the street to a Tupperware Party in the home of young mother of three little girls.
  • She had invited 12 of her neighbors from her block to show them the new samples. This was a typical American suburban street of average income families and a total of 73 children.
  • The evening started with games, and all the women taking a night off from husbands, housework and children, got right into the spirit of the occasion. Only soft drinks and cookies were served — this is an unwritten law so that no one is tempted to overreach herself socially or financially.
  • Mrs Stegmaier showed the new things, discussed new ways of using them. The party lasted two hours, and when it was over, the women ordered what they needed. One of the guests announced she’d like to be a hostess next month.
  • This is the endless chain of house selling which has made an overwhelming success out of a disappointing failure.
  • Housewives are making handsome incomes from entertaining their neighbors and taking orders for household articles from a line set up by a dealer beforehand, and finishing off the evening of fun and neighborliness with coffee and cake.
  • Many first-time hostesses, or guests, become dealers themselves. They discover latent sales abilities and go on to become sales managers. Then they recruit and train more dealers, and help put on more parties.
  • At this point, the husbands often become interested. The next step is one in which the husband often gives up his regular job and joins his wife as distributor. The couple then operate their own warehouse and office to supply the dealers in their franchised territory.
  • Today, 90 of the 160 franchised distributors are husband and wife teams. Men who have held ordinary jobs, averaging perhaps $5,000 annually, and wives who have never worked outside their homes, are making $35,000 to 50,000 a year from these home parties today.
  • This should destroy the myth that all housewives lead a dull and profitless existence.

What is a Tupperware® Party?
Tupperware parties might serve buffet foods to demonstrate how the products can be used to store food

A Tupperware® party is a marketing event hosted in someone's home. The host receives certain incentives for hosting the event, and his or her guests have an opportunity to see Tupperware® products demonstrated, and to order specific products. This sales method, a form of mulilevel marketing, was developed in the 1950s by the Tupperware® company, and it is used to sell a wide variety of products by numerous companies. Online versions are also available, for hosts who prefer a more modern approach.

At a Tupperware® party, the host provides refreshments and entertainment, and secures the services of a consultant who works for the Tupperware® company. The consultant brings a variety of products to demonstrate, along with order forms, and he or she answers questions, shows guests how various products can be used, and markets the product line to encourage people to buy. The goal is to have a stack of orders from guests by the end of the party. In return for hosting a Tupperware® party, the host usually receives a discount on products, and he or she also has the opportunity to access gifts from the company. Typically the gifts are awarded on the basis of total sales, to give the host an incentive to sell as much as possible so that he or she can get the high-end rewards. While hosting a Tupperware® party can seem like a good way to make a little bit of money, it can be exhausting, and the pool of guests is only as wide as the host's friends.

The tradition of the Tupperware® party is mostly associated with women, and historically some women have used these parties as an excuse to get together with friends and have some fun. Some hosts have made careers out of hosting parties for Tupperware® and other products, investing a great deal of time and energy in expanding their marketing pool and encouraging friends to make purchases. A typical Tupperware® party centers around a particular product line, such as storage containers or kitchen implements. Some hosts organize their parties around themes, such as a tropical Tupperware® party with tropical décor, Polynesian-style snacks, and tropical drinks such as fruit punch. At a minimum, the host provides small food snacks and drinks, and he or she may also put together grab bags for guests, along with other incentives to encourage them to come and to spend money on the products being demonstrated.

Tupperware Parties: Suburban Women’s Plastic Path to Empowerment

If you peeked into a suburban living room in the 1950s, you might see a group of women in funny hats playing party games, tossing lightweight plastic bowls back and forth and chatting about their lives as they passed around an order form for Tupperware. Well stocked with punch and cookies, the daytime parties were well mannered affairs. But Tupperware parties were more than they might seem. Although they engaged in lighthearted socializing at living rooms, Tupperware party organizers were running thriving, woman-owned businesses. And the women who participated in them weren’t just stocking their homes: they were experimenting with cutting-edge technology that helped food stay fresh for longer. During the 1950s and 1960s, thousands of women started their own home businesses selling Tupperware, breaking gender stereotypes even as they reinforced them.

The Tupperware Home Parties of the 1950s and 1960s were the only way to purchase a line of polyethylene plastic storage containers that were the brainchild of Earl Tupper, a Massachusetts businessman who figured out a way to turn an industrial byproduct into an improvement on plastic he called Poly-T. Tupper introduced Tupperware after World War II. But at first, nobody understood what they were or how to use them. It would take an ambitious woman—and an army of amateur salespeople—to sell the innovative containers to America. Tupperware looked nothing like the plasticware that was in most women’s kitchens. At first, homemakers were wary of a material they associated with bad smells, a weirdly oily texture and cheap construction. The bowls’ most unique feature was also what held it back initially: the airtight lids wouldn’t seal unless they were “burped” beforehand, and that confused consumers, who returned them to stores claiming the lids didn’t fit. The businessman needed a new sales strategy, and quick. Around the time that Tupper invented Poly-T, a cleaning products company called Stanley Home had debuted the “home party,” a new method of selling products directly to housewives. Stanley Home parties were a chance for women to buy products from salespeople in their home, not their doorstep, and to do so along with their friends.

The parties were a way to connect with old friends, make new ones, and participate in a booming consumer economy. Though they took place in living rooms, the events were a way to step away (if only temporarily) from the intensive domestic labor expected of housewives in that era. They were also a way for women who were discouraged from working outside the home to make money. “Tupperware . . . took those moms out of the kitchen where they were 'supposed to be' and let them enter the workforce, and let them have something outside the home,” Lorna Boyd, whose mother Sylvia was a Tupperware dealer in the 1960s, told the Smithsonian Institution. Some Tupperware salespeople turned home parties into big business, and top sellers were rewarded with lavish gifts, like diamond rings and designer wardrobes, at the company’s annual sales meetings. Tupperware parties didn’t just flourish in the suburbs, or among white women. “Black and Hispanic women, single mothers and divorcees formed the less visible force behind Tupperware’s expansion,” notes Clarke. Though its public face was white and suburban, the company made inroads in markets that were underestimated or overlooked by other companies. Wise didn’t last at Tupperware—she was ousted after a conflict with Earl Tupper in 1958. She received no stock in the company she helped build and Tupper largely banned mentions of her from appearing in corporate literature. Shortly after Wise’s ouster, Tupper sold the company to Rexall, a drug store. But Tupperware—and Tupperware parties—live on. Today, the company is publicly traded and thrives on the global market. Sold in almost 100 countries, overseas sales produce more than half of its revenue, and its largest market is Indonesia. And though the parties may no longer be ubiquitous in the United States, they still peddle the American dream to women in the developing world.

Tupperware Heritage

Tupperware® brand products made their debut in 1946, the start of a revolutionary post-war period in history. For 60 years, Tupperware brand products have closely followed rollercoaster trends from the suburban movement to the 60's feminist revolution to '90s "cocooning" continually adding a unique organizational touch to the lives and kitchens across the nation. Just prior to its consumer introduction in 1946, inventor Earl Tupper's plastics-like materials of many manufacturers were dedicated to the war effort. The versatility and convenience of Tupper's "miracle" products helped to launch the plastics revolution of the next decade. Tupper's first consumer plastic products the Wonderlier® Bowl and Bell Tumbler offered a unique benefit that traditional food containers did not: they were lighter and less likely to break than traditional glass and crockery.

With the onset of the post-war "baby boom," women dedicated themselves to caring for their growing families. The "Tupperized" kitchen was born … a kitchen that was well organized and neat, and featured a variety of containers that replaced unsightly open packages and that kept food fresh longer. In 1946, Tupper introduced his legendary airtight seals patterned after the inverted rim on a can of paint which prevented food from drying out, wilting or losing its flavor in the now-common refrigerator. Despite their breakthrough nature, Tupper's products didn't sell well in retail outlets, primarily because consumers needed demonstrations in order to understand how they worked. In response, the first Tupperware Home Party was held in 1948, introducing an all-new way for Tupperware products to reach consumers. Demonstrations proved a dramatically effective way of communicating the benefits of the revolutionary seal. By 1951, the Tupperware Home Demonstration system was working so well that all Tupperware products were taken off store shelves to be distributed in this manner. The direct sales demonstration was a welcome diversion for women, whose involvement in the community mostly revolved around their family. Selling Tupperware products via the party sales method was an appealing career for these women, who had few career opportunities after their men returned from the war. As consumers relocated from large urban centers to homes in the suburbs, backyard barbecues became a favorite way for families and neighbors to spend leisure time. The new Tupperware products answered needs created by this popular pastime. The Party Bowl kept macaroni and egg salads fresh and cold outdoors, while The Pie Taker provided easy transportation for homemade desserts. The Dip 'N Serve™ Serving Tray functioned much the same way, making it simple to get chips and dip to and from the backyard or the picnic site.

The '60s were times of social upheaval with the family undergoing social changes. As two-income families became more common, women actively pursued career opportunities and Tupperware filled the ensuing product niche with designs like the Traveling Desk, Drawer Organizers, and the Plastic Carrying Case. The huge wave of baby boomers that began having children of their own created a need for sturdy, stimulating toys. Again Tupperware rose to the challenge, introducing an innovative line of toys like the Shape-O® toy, a fun-yet-educational design which challenged each stage of a child's development from functioning as a rattle for infants to promoting eye-hand coordination in toddlers. While the demand for specialized kitchen products soared, Tupperware kept pace with changing palates by offering storage products like the Mix 'N Stor® Container, and the Tortilla Keeper for serving ethnic dishes. Thanks to advances in medical technology, consumers were living longer than ever before, resulting in an increasing population of seniors. During this era, Tupperware introduced the Instant Seal, which catered to a mature population with not-so-nimble fingers.

Tupperware Parties
A Tupperware party advertisement from the late 1950s

Tupperware is still sold mostly through a party plan, with rewards for hosts and hostesses. In some countries like New Zealand, products can be purchased online without a salesperson. A Tupperware party is run by a Tupperware "consultant" for a host or hostess who invites friends and neighbors into their home to see the product line. Tupperware hosts and hostesses are rewarded with free products based on the level of sales made at their party. Parties also take place in workplaces, schools, and other community groups.

To stay in touch with its sales force, Tupperware published the monthly magazine Tupperware Sparks. The magazine had snapshots of saleswomen posing with awards and recognition for high sales. To avoid spending money on advertising, Tupperware created events that attracted free publicity. The multi-level marketing strategy adopted by Tupperware has been criticized as manipulative. Statistics released by Tupperware in 2018 showed that 94% of its active distributors remained on the lowest level of the pyramid, with average gross earnings of $653. In recent years, Tupperware in North America has moved to a new business model which includes more emphasis on direct marketing channels and eliminated its dependency on authorized distributorships. This transition included selling through Target stores in the US and Superstores in Canada with disappointing results. Tupperware states this hurt direct sales. In countries with a strong focus on marketing through parties (such as Germany, Australia, and New Zealand), Tupperware's market share and profitability continue to decline. In China, Tupperware products are sold through franchised "entrepreneurial shopfronts", of which there were 1,900 in 2005, due to pyramid selling laws enacted in 1998. The Chinese characters 特 百 惠 are used as the brand name and translate as "hundred benefit".

Feminist views vary regarding the Tupperware format of sales through parties and the social and economic role of women portrayed by the Tupperware model. Opposing views state that the intended gendered product and selling campaign further domesticates women and keeps their predominant focus on homemaking. The positive feminist views consider that Tupperware provided work for women who were pregnant or otherwise not guaranteed their position at work due to unequal gender laws in the workplace. The company promoted the betterment of women and the opportunities Tupperware offered women. The negative view includes the restriction of women to the domestic sphere and limiting the real separation between running the household and a career. The emergence of Tupperware in the American market created a new kind of opportunity for an underrepresented labor demographic: women, and especially suburban housewives.

Tupperware since 1946
Tupperware was developed in 1946 by Earl Tupper (1907–1983) in Leominster, Massachusetts

Tupperware is an American home products line that includes preparation, storage, and serving products for the kitchen and home. In 1942, Earl Tupper developed his first bell-shaped container; the brand products were introduced to the public in 1946. Tupperware develops, manufactures, and internationally distributes its products as a wholly owned subsidiary of its parent company Tupperware Brands; as of 2007, it was sold by means of approximately 1.9 million direct salespeople on contract.

In 2013, the top marketplace for Tupperware was Indonesia, which topped Germany as the second. Indonesia's sales in 2013 were more than $200 million. Tupperware was developed in 1946 by Earl Tupper (1907–1983) in Leominster, Massachusetts. He developed plastic containers to be used in households to contain food and keep them airtight, which featured a then-patented "burping seal". Tupper had already invented the plastic for Tupperware in 1938, but the product succeeded with the emergence of the "sale through presentation" idea, held in a party setting. Tupperware developed a direct marketing strategy to sell products known as the Tupperware party. The Tupperware party enabled women of the 1950s to earn an income while keeping their focus in the domestic domain. The "party plan" model relies on characteristics generally assumed of housewives (e.g., party planning, hosting a party, sociable relations with friends and neighbors). Brownie Wise (1913–1992) recognized Tupperware's potential as a commodity. She realized that she had to be creative and therefore started to throw these Tupperware parties. Wise, a former sales representative of Stanley Home Products, developed the strategy. As a result, Wise was made vice president of marketing in 1951. Wise soon created Tupperware Parties Inc.

During the early 1950s, Tupperware's sales and popularity exploded, thanks in large part to Wise's influence among women who sold Tupperware, and some of the famous "jubilees" celebrating the success of Tupperware ladies at lavish and outlandishly themed parties. At a time when women came back from working during World War II only to be told to "go back to the kitchen", Tupperware was known as a method of empowering women and giving them a toehold in the postwar business world. The tradition of Tupperware's "Jubilee" style events continues to this day, with rallies being held in major cities to recognize and reward top-selling and top-recruiting individuals, teams, and organizations. Tupperware spread to Europe in 1960 when Mila Pond hosted Tupperware parties in Weybridge, England, and other locations around the world. At the time, a strict dress code was required for Tupperware ladies, with skirts and stockings (tights) worn at all times, and white gloves often accompanying the outfit. A technique called "carrot calling" helped promote the parties: representatives would travel door-to-door in a neighborhood and ask housewives to "run an experiment" in which carrots would be placed in a Tupperware container and compared with "anything that you would ordinarily leave them in"; it would often result in the scheduling of a Tupperware party. Rexall, by now the owner of the Tupperware brand, sold its namesake drugstores in 1977, and renamed itself Dart Industries. Dart merged with Kraftco to form Dart & Kraft. The company demerged, with the former Dart assets renamed Premark International. Tupperware Brands was spun off from Premark in 1996; Premark was acquired by Illinois Tool Works three years later.


Bak Chang since 1945 (Zongzi 粽 子)

Kim Choo Kueh Chang in Joo Chiat for since 1945

Talk about having a rich history: Kim Choo Kueh Chang, a Peranakan delicatessen, has been faithfully serving handmade Nyonya dumplings and kueh for 77 years. Located about 10 minutes on foot from Eunos MRT Station, locals and tourists alike flock to this beloved store for a taste of nostalgia and tradition.

Kim Choo Kueh Chang’s humble beginnings date back to 1945, when their founder Madam Lee Kim Choo sold her Nyonya rice dumplings under a banyan tree. Through the years, they have preserved the traditional flavours of their delicacies, serving as a bastion of Peranakan cuisine in Singapore. They were even selected to manage the Singapore Visitor Centre of Katong and Joo Chiat, because of their rich heritage and legacy.

Till today, all their rice dumplings and kueh are house-made on the premises, in the kitchen right behind their counter, where you’ll get all their products, only available for takeaway.

Kim Choo Kueh Chang

Kim Choo Kueh Chang's Nyonya rice dumplings have been a mainstay in Singapore’s diverse epicurean tapestry since 1945.

Many covet its rich taste, finely woven around the humble delicacy. But more importantly is its ability to preserve the traditional, unyielding to the hands of time and untainted by the modern.

Madam Lee Kim Choo managed a humble store under a Banyan Tree at the cross junction of Joo Chiat Place and Everitt Road in the early 1940s. Today, her name is synonymous with the precinct's rich Peranakan heritage and her Nyonya rice dumplings.

Kim Choo Dumplings

A Peranakan treasure that has been around since 1945, Kim Choo Kueh Chang’s third-generation custodians are dedicated to preserving their grandma’s recipes and the art of wrapping the well-loved triangular rice dumplings, which remain cult favourites today.

They still operate out of their original location at Joo Chiat Place, and are an integral part of the neighbourhood’s identity. They are so popular with locals and tourists alike that they also manage a Singapore Visitor Centre for the precinct of Katong & Joo Chiat. The mission is to share the Peranakan culture and its rich food heritage with all who are willing.

The Nyonya Dumplings and Kuehs of Kim Choo Kueh Chang

Kim Choo Kueh Chang has been operating out of a shophouse in Joo Chiat since 1945.  It is most famous for its Nyonya Rice Dumpling (or Nyonya chang) and Traditional Salty Dumpling (or bak chang) but it also has a wide range of Nyonya kuehs, cookies and other snacks. Kim Choo Kueh Chang may also be the subject of another food fued in the East – like the Katong Laksa saga and the mee pok war (see The Straits Times Archives for 5 famous Singapore food feuds).

When a food stall becomes very popular or famous there will always be a risk that someone else will lay claim to the heritage name. Others may also come along and use a similar name or a part of its name to ride on the goodwill or reputation acquired or to give the impression that they are connected to the original stall. It appears that Kim Choo Kueh Chang has become that popular or famous. It has taken to putting up notices and announcing on social media that


Zongzi (粽 子, Chinese sticky rice dumpling) is a traditional food for celebrating Duanwu festival (端 午 节, aka Dragon boat festival) which is on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. The Dragon Boat Race isn’t a tradition in the North-west of China where I grew up. But Zongzi is definitely an indispensable delicacy that makes this festival very attractive and special.

Zongzi is basically glutinous rice with sweet or savoury fillings wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves. After being cooked in water, all the ingredients stick together and stay in a particular shape when unwrapped. It’s a sticky, aromatic and flavoursome treat that involves some very specific preparation. But it’s worth every bit of effort as it tastes so good!

There is a large variety of Zongzi across China. They differ in size, shape and filling. Growing up with sweet Zongzi stuffed with red beans and/or Chinese dates, I encountered culture shock the first time I heard of savoury ones. Having meat as the main filling is very popular in the southern regions of China such as Shanghai, Canton, etc. You may also find them filled with salted egg yolks, chestnuts, dried shrimp, etc. Obviously sweet and savoury Zongzi are very different in taste, but I think they are equally delicious! That’s why I’d like to introduce both versions in this post.

Bak chang 101: How to tell Hokkien, Nyonya, Teochew and other rice dumplings apart

Whether you call them bak chang, zongzi or glutinous rice dumpling, there is always a plethora of different types available in Singapore. Every dialect group boast their own distinct ingredients and colour in the traditional offerings, while restaurant chefs annually try to come up with modern takes and new combinations.

How to tell the difference? Here’s a list of some variations of those delicious little pyramids of sticky rice and meat wrapped in bamboo leaves – and where you can order them:
  • TEOCHEW CHANG - A good mix of sweet and savoury fillings. Usually made with marinated pork belly, mushrooms, dried shrimp, Chinese sausage, chestnuts, lotus seeds and mung bean paste. The inclusion of the sweet mung bean paste (first rolled into a ball and then wrapped in caul fat) is the main ingredient that differentiates the Teochew chang from the rest.
  • HOKKIEN CHANG - Most commonly available all year round and distinctly savoury. Dark brown in colour. Usually made with pork belly, salted egg yolk, chestnuts and dried shrimps. The rice is typically fried with five-spice powder and dark soy sauce for aromatic fragrance.
  • NYONYA CHANG - Tinged with a blue tip, dyed using blue pea flower. Wrapped in pandan leaves, boasting a sweet fragrance. Usually made with lean pork, candied winter melon strips and coriander powder. Glutinous rice is made with blue pea essence. Slightly sweet.
  • HAKKA CHANG - Usually made with pork, salted egg yolk, black-eyed peas and mushrooms. Similar to Cantonese chang but the main difference is that it’s wrapped in black eyed peas (instead of green mung beans) and pork before it’s boiled. Pale in colour.
  • KEE CHANG - Prepared with yellow glutinous rice (made with lye water). Presented either plain without fillings or stuffed with red bean paste. Slightly sweet with an alkaline aftertaste. Dipped in sugar or drizzled in gula melaka for a much sweeter profile. Small in size.


Sticky rice dumpling, better known as zongzi 粽 子 is a traditional Chinese food eaten to celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival ( 5th day of the 5th month of the lunar calendar ) which falls on 20th June this year. It is a bamboo leaf wrapped dumpling filled with sticky rice and other ingredients. Generally speaking, there are 2 types of zong zi, namely the sweet and savoury ones. The sweet dumplings are normally filled with red bean paste and the savoury ones are filled with pork, salted eggs mushrooms, dried shrimps or chestnuts.

What is Teochew Bak Chang (Sticky Rice Dumpling)? What Are The Typical Ingredients Used? What is so special about our Teochew Sticky Rice Dumplings (Bak Chang / Bak Zhang 肉 粽) is that they are a combination of savoury and sweet. Also known as Double Flavour Zongzi (Shuang Pin Zongzi 双 拼 肉 粽 子), these are savoury as well as sweet, because of the red bean paste ball that is added together with the savoury fillings.

The typical fillings in my family’s Bak Chang are shiitake mushroom, 5 spice pork belly, chinese sausage, chestnuts, dried shrimps, salted egg yolk and the star of the dish: red bean paste ball. Traditionally, the red bean paste ball is wrapped into balls using caul fat (or pork lard netting) to keep the sweet filling apart from the savoury fillings, which also makes it much more aromatic too. My family especially loves the red bean paste in the teochew sticky rice dumplings, without which will not be complete.

Nyonya Bak Chang (Peranakan Glutinous Rice Dumpling)

This is my version of Nyonya Chang. A sweet and savoury rice dumpling with a distinct patch of blue from the blue pea flower.

It is usually wrapped in pandan leaves but as I was not able to get broad pandan leaves, bamboo leaves were used instead.

Nyonya changs are different from the rest due to the candied winter melon and coriander powder used to make the filling. Minced pork belly was also used for this recipe instead of finely diced pork.


Nyonya Chang (娘 惹 粽) is a Melaka Peranakan cuisine.

A traditional Nyonya Chang has a distinctive sweet and savory taste with a patch of blue glutinous rice, which is colored by blue pea flower juice.

This Nyonya Chang recipe is absolutely delicious and not overly sweet with a hint of spiciness. The secret to get the best flavor is to use whole coriander seeds and white pepper seeds instead of store-bought ground spices.


Nyonya cuisine or sometimes you will refer to as Peranakan cuisine is a hybrid between the traditional Chinese and Malay cooking. The term Nyonya or Peranakan is commonly used in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore where both Chinese and Malay influence exist. Nyonya chang is basically a variation of the traditional Chinese zong zi created by the peranakan people.

The Nyonya chang is typically characterized by its blue color on some part of the dumplings more often than not, though not always. It’s totally fine not to have the blue color too. The filling is infused with a strong Malay spice we know as coriander seeds (don’t be mistaken with coriander leaves, which is totally different in aroma and taste) or we call it ketumbar in Indonesia. Kencur (lesser galangal) is also added. These two make very distinct pleasant aromas.

Chinese zong zi is savory in taste. Nyonya chang taste more at the sweet side than savory, thanks to the candied winter melon. Coriander seeds and kencur pair well with a sweet taste.


I’ve never imagined making zongzi or bak cang in Hokkien dialect, on my own. I mean this was something I took for granted. Either my mom would make them or my aunt would make some or my dad would buy some. Regardless, we always had some to eat. They are also available at most Asian grocery stores too, however, I always miss the one I had at home. Zongzi is traditionally eaten at the Dragon Boat Festival on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month (confused yet ? don’t worry about the day and the month, just focus on the food).

The Dragon Boat Festival is the commemoration of the death of the great poet and official of the state of Chu, Qu Yuan, during the Zhou dynasty. He wrote a great deal of poetry during his life and serve in high offices. He was accused of treason during the warring states period. He felt despair and Qu Yuan drowned himself in the Miluo river in northern Hunan. People who admired Qu Yuan made rice parcels and threw them into the river in the hope that the fish would not consume Qu Yuan’s body and ate the rice parcels instead. Despite all the stories out there, no one really knows for sure. I just know that Zongzi is eaten all over the world, especially in Asia. Of course, as the Chinese immigrated to other countries, this culture is carried along and now is eaten in other parts of Asia and has been adapted to local taste too.

My Dad’s family is Hokkien and needless to say, Hokkien bak chang is what I grew up eating. Even though my mom’s family is Teochew, but I’ve never tasted Teochew bak chang before. Teochew bak chang has both sweet and savory filling. Hokkien bak chang is much darker in color because dark soy sauce is used and I know some has black-eyed peas added to the filling. I didn’t use that. The meat filling is also cooked in five-spice powder and chestnuts and salted egg yolk are added. The glutinous rice grain is usually stir-fried in five-spice powder and dark soy sauce for that dark appearance.


Traditional kee chang (alkaline dumplings) filled with Chinese red bean paste or plain kee chang served with palm sugar syrup or dipped in sugar. Can be cooked in Instant Pot too.

As its name suggested, the sticky rice is mixed with alkaline solution that makes the dumplings chewy and bouncy. The alkaline also turns the rice slightly yellowish brown in color.

The sticky rice is then wrapped in a cone-shaped using banana leaves and then boiled until the sticky rice literally sticks to each other into one beautiful cohesive mass. The dumplings are then hanged to let them firm up before serving.

Kee Chang 素 碱 水 粽

Kee Chang is the most traditional of all rice dumplings, as it is plain with only glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo leaves.

You can have it by dipping into authentic Gula Melaka Sauce, kaya or sugar. All our Kee Chang are cooked slowly over charcoal fire for the best taste coupled and we use only the best organic glutinous rice! Every purchase of our Kee Chang comes with our homemade Gula Melaka Sauce provided.

Please Note that For any rice dumplings, they are kept frozen and can last for 1 month upon received. You can thaw and steam it for 20 mins under high heat before consumption.


China’s C919 Takes Maiden Commercial Flight

Update 29 May 2024: China’s C919 aircraft celebrates its first anniversary

China’s home-grown passenger jet, the C919, has marked one year in service since it started being used for commercial flights. Fifteen years in the making, the single-aisle plane made its maiden voyage in May 2023, officially launching China as a global player in the aviation manufacturing industry. 

First Bite From Boeing

China's first homegrown passenger jet C919 took off from Shanghai to Beijing on its maiden commercial flight on Sunday 28 May 2023.

After a 16-year development program plagued by delays, China’s homegrown C919 passenger jet made its long-awaited maiden commercial flight Sunday, marking a small but symbolic first challenge to Boeing and Airbus in one of their most important markets.

Despite backing from top leaders and a ready-made market for its planes, manufacturer Comac faces a steep path to success.

China’s C919 passenger jet to make first commercial flight
China's first homegrown jetliner, the C919 lands at Nanchang Changbei International Airport during a test flight on January 28, 2023

After years of research, development and tests, China’s first large homegrown passenger jet appears set to make its inaugural commercial flight on Sunday, May 28. China Eastern Airlines is the launch customer for the new narrow-body C919.

According to the airline’s app, flight MU 9191 will depart Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport at 10:45 a.m. local time, arriving at Beijing Capital International Airport at 1:10 p.m. In a message posted on its app, China Eastern Airlines said it will choose passengers via a lottery involving those who have applied to board the inaugural flight. Built by COMAC (Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China) in China, the first C919 was delivered to China Eastern Airlines in December 2022 and in the following months has been put through a series of test flights. The single-aisle, twin-engined aircraft has 164 seats in a two-class cabin configuration consisting of business and economy seats. With a range of up to 5,555 kilometers (3,452 miles), the C919 will be taking on the world’s two major aircraft manufacturers, Airbus and Boeing. It will be a direct competitor to their A320 and B737 narrowbody jets, most commonly used for domestic and regional international flights.

According to the 2022 Shanghai Science and Technology Progress Report issued by the Shanghai government, 32 clients had placed a total of 1,035 orders for the plane as of the end of 2022. Many of the plane’s major elements such as the nose, fuselage, outer wing, vertical stabilizer and horizontal stabilizer were designed by COMAC. However, the company enlisted Western companies to assist with some components. This includes the plane’s LEAP-1C engines, which were developed by CFM International, a joint venture between General Electric and French high-tech industrial group Safran.

China throws down the gauntlet: lifted off C919, first domestically produced plane
The aircraft has a maximum flight capacity of 3,500 miles (5,630 kilometres) & can carry up to 158-168 passengers

Departure at 10.45am from Shanghai, expected arrival in Beijing at 1.10pm. Return in the day, always following the same route, the busiest in all of China. After fifteen years of waiting, Comac's C919 takes flight, the Chinese answer to trying to undermine the monopoly of Airbus and Boeing. The 'Made in China' airliner took off on Sunday, for its first commercial flight, after flying hundreds of hours of test flights in recent months.

However, the 164-seat aircraft still relies heavily on Western components, including engines and avionics, i.e. the electronic equipment installed on board the aircraft. The state-owned China Eastern Airlines has ordered five aircraft. Comac plans to produce 150 aircraft per year within the next five years and claims to have already secured more than 1,200 orders for the C919. But some experts claim that most of these orders are letters of intent from domestic customers.

President Xi Jinping, who sat in the cockpit of a C919 model a few years ago, described the project as one of China's most innovative achievements. The aircraft has a maximum flight capacity of 3,500 miles (5,630 kilometres) and can carry up to 158-168 passengers. "After generations of efforts, we have finally broken the Western aviation monopoly and got rid of the humiliation of 800 million shirts for a Boeing," wrote the Beijing Daily newspaper, referring to the early period of China's opening up to international trade when it mainly produced low-value-added goods.

China’s first home-grown passenger jet, C919, marks first commercial flight
The flight marks a milestone for China’s efforts to become more self-reliant. PHOTO: XINHUA

China Eastern Airlines Corp Ltd entered China’s home-grown narrow-body C919 jet into passenger service on Sunday and completed its first commercial flight, marking a milestone in the country’s effort to become more self-reliant.

The C919 is the product of state-backed Commercial Aviation Corp of China (COMAC) which began developing the jet 15 years ago to rival Airbus SE’s A320neo and Boeing Co’s 737 MAX single-aisle jet families. President Xi Jinping has hailed the project as a triumph of Chinese innovation, while on Sunday state media trumpeted the plane as a symbol of industrial prowess and national pride. “After generations of endeavour, we finally broke the West’s aviation monopoly and rid ourselves of the humiliation of ‘800 million shirts for one Boeing’,” Beijing Daily wrote, referring to the early years of economic reform around 40 years ago when China manufactured mainly low-value goods.

The C919 took off at 10.32am from Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport where COMAC and China Eastern Airlines are headquartered, and landed two hours later at Beijing Capital Airport, showed flight tracker app Variflight. “I’m confident about the plane. The flight was smoother than expected,” one of about 130 passengers told state broadcaster CCTV as he disembarked.

China’s C919 passenger jet makes first commercial flight

China's first domestically made passenger aircraft lifted off on its inaugural commercial flight, marking a watershed moment in the country's drive to reach for the skies. Beijing hopes that the C919 commercial jetliner will challenge Western models like the Boeing 737 MAX and the Airbus A320.

Its first homegrown jetliner with mass commercial potential would also cut the country's reliance on foreign technology. "In the future, most passengers will be able to choose to travel by large, domestically produced aircraft," state broadcaster CCTV said. China Eastern Airlines flight MU9191 reached the skies above Shanghai Hongqiao Airport on Sunday morning, footage from CCTV showcased, and was due to land in Beijing in the early afternoon. 

The plane is carrying over 130 passengers, as per CCTV. Hundreds of passengers gathered at the sun-drenched Shanghai runway to ogle the sleek white plane, according to footage published by official media. They then filed into the narrow-body plane which taxied to the runway prior to its take-off. Passengers were given red boarding cards and would be treated to a delicious "themed meal" to remember the journey, CCTV added.

China’s C919 debut could inspire aviation supply chain to take off, but self-sufficiency ‘difficult’

The successful commercial debut of China's home-grown C919 passenger jet has already prompted market expectations for a fast expansion of the domestic aircraft production supply chain, as Beijing seeks to to break its reliance on Boeing and Airbus.

Sunday's first commercial flight between Shanghai and Beijing has been seen as a critical step in China's bid for technological self-sufficiency in the face of intensifying trade tensions with the United States. "The completion of the inaugural flight will ... drive the entire supply chain on passenger flight production - from design, manufacturing, training and repair sections," Chen Xianfan, an analyst from the China International Capital Corporation, said on Monday.

Around 200 Chinese companies were involved in building the C919, according to a report from China Securities on Monday. We expect that it would be difficult to upgrade the productivity of the C919 model in a short period of time And while certain parts can already be domestically produced, the brokerage house expects the proportion will continue to grow.

China's first-ever large homegrown airliner has finally made its inaugural flight — meet the Comac C919
The C919 is a narrowbody passenger plane made by state-owned aerospace manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac)

The China Eastern plane is fit with eight business class seats and 156 economy seats, with the inflight interiors and entertainment system being custom-designed, per the planemaker.

To celebrate the historic event, passengers were given red boarding passes and served a "themed" meal onboard, including a dessert that had the airline's logo.

In addition to the inaugural route, the carrier also plans to fly the 164-seater aircraft to cities like Guangzhou, Chengdu, and Xiamen, Reuters reported.

China’s C919 timeline 2008-23: first commercial flight 15 years in the making

The Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac) was formed in 2008 to develop the C919 narrow-body passenger jet.

The C919 was formally put into service with its maiden commercial flight in May 2023. The Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac) was formed in 2008 to develop the C919 narrow-body passenger jet, which eventually completed its maiden commercial flight in May 2023.

But how did it take 15 years for the C919 to take the two-hour commercial flight from Shanghai to Beijing?
  • May 2008: Comac formed - China forms the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac) in Shanghai.
  • January 2009: Comac to develop C919 - Comac announces it will develop the C919 narrow-body passenger jet. State media reports the C919 is expected to have its maiden flight in 2014 and will be delivered to airlines in 2016.
  • September 2009: Comac unveils C919 - Comac unveils a model of the C919 aircraft for the first time at the Asian Aerospace Expo in Hong Kong.
  • December 2009: Comac confirms C919 engine supplier - CFM International, a joint venture between GE Aviation from the United States and France's Safran Aircraft Engines, is selected by Comac to supply the LEAP engine to the C919.
  • December 2010: CAAC accepts application for C919 type certificate - The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) accepts Comac's application for a type certificate - the airworthiness of an aircraft design - for the C919
  • November 2012: C919 development going according to plan, Comac says - Comac says at the Zhuhai air show that the development of C919 is going according to plan. It also says it has received 380 orders.
  • October 2013: C919's maiden flight delayed - Local media report the C919's maiden flight will be delayed by a year until 2015, pushing the first delivery dates to around 2017 or 2018.
  • September 2014: Comac begins C919 assembly - Comac begins the assembly of the C919 at its Pudong base.
  • May 2015: C919 delays - Reuters reports that the C919 would have to delay its maiden flight for a year and that it will also have to postpone its first delivery for two years.
  • July 2015: First C919 engine delivered - CFM International delivers the first LEAP engine for the C919 in Shanghai.
  • November 2015: Comac unveils C919 - Comac unveils the C919 for the first time in a ceremony attended by some 4,000 government officials and guests at a hangar near Shanghai's Pudong International Airport.
  • November 2016: China Eastern Airlines to be first C919 customer - Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines announces at the Zhuhai air show that it will be the first C919 customer.
  • May 2017: Maiden C919 flight - C919 makes its maiden flight in Shanghai.
  • October 2017: FAA and CAAC agree to recognise regulatory systems - The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and CAAC agree to recognise each other's regulatory systems with respect to the airworthiness of aviation products and articles.
  • February 2020: Trump supports sales of hi-tech products to China - US President Donald Trump says that he will support sales of hi-tech products to China after media reports suggested Washington may block the export of the LEAP engine to Comac.
  • January 2021: Comac blacklisted - US government includes Comac on a military blacklist, banning US investment.
  • March 2021: China Eastern Airlines orders 5 C919 - China Eastern Airlines signs a firm order for five C919s.
  • June 2021: US, EU agree subsidies truce - The US and the European Union agree to a truce in their near 17-year conflict over aircraft subsidies to Boeing and Airbus and to set up a working group to address "non-market practices" in other countries, most notably China.
  • November 2021: Comac removed from US blacklist - Biden administration adjusts its military blacklist to remove Comac.
  • September 2022: C919 receives a type certificate - C919 receives a type certificate from CAAC.
  • November 2022: Comac secures orders for 300 C919 - Comac says it has secured orders from seven leasing firms for 300 C919.
  • December 2022: Comac delivers first C919 jet to China Eastern Airlines - Comac delivers the first C919 jet to China Eastern Airlines in Shanghai and it begins a reported 100 hours of test flights.
  • May 2023: C919 completes its first commercial flight - Bearing the symbolic number MU9191, the flight operated by China Eastern Airlines and carrying more than 130 passengers travels between Shanghai and Beijing.

China-developed C919 jet expected price doubles, to match Boeing and Airbus
China Eastern Airlines said that it is planning to raise capital to buy four C919 aircraft from the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China. PHOTO: ENGLISH.COMAC.CC

A China-developed jetliner that Beijing hopes will rival those of Boeing and Airbus is going to cost nearly twice the price anticipated. In a Tuesday (May 10) filing to the Shanghai Stock Exchange, China Eastern Airlines Corp said that it is planning to raise capital to buy four C919 aircraft from China's state-owned aerospace giant Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China (COMAC). Each jet is listed for a price of 653 million yuan (S$134 million).

That price would put the C919 in the same range as narrow-body competitors like the Airbus A320neo, with a list price of US$111 million (S$154 million), and the troubled Boeing 737 Max, which has a list price of US$117 million. Analysts had initially estimated the C919 to cost around US$50 million, giving it a significant cost advantage over those of the established foreign duopoly. The four C919s are part of China Eastern's broader fleet expansion plan, which consists of 24 domestically developed ARJ21-700 regional aircraft, six Airbus A350-900 wide-body aircraft and four Boeing 787-9 wide-body aircraft, the filing said.

In order to fund the purchase, China Eastern plans to raise 10.5 billion yuan by selling its A-shares to a consortium of up to 35 investors including its controlling shareholder China Eastern Air Holding, according to the filing. The 38 airplanes will cost a total of US$4.38 billion, or 28.9 billion yuan, and China Eastern said that it will raise extra funds through other channels to fill the cash shortfall. The eventual sale could cost less as aircraft-makers typically offer bigger discounts to customers who buy in bulk, an industry insider told Caixin.

China unveils jet to rival Boeing and Airbus
The fifth prototype of China's home-built C919 passenger plane takes off for its first test flight from Shanghai Pudong International Airport in Shanghai, China October 24, 2019. Picture taken October 24, 2019. REUTERS / Stringer

China's homegrown C919 narrow-body jet, designed to challenge the Airbus-Boeing (AIR.PA)(BA.N) duopoly, is nearing certification as its test planes completed all of the test flight tasks, the company said on Saturday.

The state-owned manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (COMAC) said on its official social media account that the six test planes have finished the testing tasks as the programme enters the final stage of receiving a certificate from the Civil Aviation Administration of China which is required for commercial operations. That would mark a milestone in China's ambitions to climb up the manufacturing supply chain.

Designed to compete directly with the Boeing 737 MAX and Airbus 320neo families, the C919 aircraft programme has faced a range of technical issues and tougher U.S. export controls, after being launched in 2008, Reuters has reported. The launch customer is the state-owned China Eastern Airlines (600115.SS), which has placed an order for five C919 jets in March last year. Changjiang Daily, a newspaper owned by the local government of Wuhan, said in a report on July 8 the airline is scheduled to take the first delivery in August.