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Food fad craze and phenomena in Taiwan

Many years ago, a brand new food took Taiwan by storm. People would stand in line for hours so they could buy this amazing new dish for themselves. Seeing the chance to hit it big, copycat franchises would pop up over night, and then everyone would have to try and see which place sold the superior product, while loyalists would claim that the best place would be the original store.

After a while, though, people would begin to tire of it. Some would just be tired of eating large quantities of it all the time, others would come to their senses and realize that they never really liked eating it in the first place. One by one, the copycats would become “fraidy cats” and disappear, until at last, even the original store would have a hard time staying in business. Branch after branch would shut down, leaving only one or two barely scraping by.

What food am I talking about? You tell me — there are too many to choose from! The scenario I just described repeats itself over and over in Taiwan. Food fads come and go. Remember the Portuguese egg tarts from long ago (葡式蛋塔)? Remember how many different Tapioca Milk Tea stands there used to be? Remember how crazy people were for donuts? Remember how many Custard Fish pastry stands there used to be?

If we're lucky, after the fad is over, there will still be a couple of good stores left for us to occasionally visit, but the tragedy is that often after a fad is over, it becomes impossible for us to find the once popular food item.

In my neighborhood, near the MRT Guting Station, it seems the current fad is burger joints. There are at least a dozen different burger joints within a 20 minute walk from my home. When Evans Burger first appeared, I was so excited, especially because of it's great weekday lunch specials. When 1885 Burger came around, I enthused over its wonderful fries and juicy burger meat. I then tried to make it my duty to know for a fact which store sold the best burgers and best fries, but after more and more diners and burger joints appeared, I got so tired of burgers that I have yet to force myself to try every store.

Remember, store owners: just because something is popular at the present doesn't mean you should try and cash in on the popularity.

Now, don't take this the wrong way, I like most of the food fads: the point is that I only want to eat it occasionally. In the case of the burger joints in the area, some of the less popular stores have already disappeared before I had even gotten around to trying them. Let's hope the burger's current over-saturation doesn't cause it to eventually die out, like so many other food fads in the past.

Eye on Taiwan invites you to share your reflections and observations regarding Taiwan. Please send submissions to alice.li@mail.chinapost.com.tw and include your (1) real name, (2) nationality, (3) contact number, (4) photo, and (5) profile. Specify Eye on Taiwan in the subject line and ensure your submission is at least 350 words long. Writers whose pieces are selected for publication will receive one month's free subscription to The China Post.
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