Canned yellow peaches are selling like hotcakes across China, their popularity helping relieve anxiety over COVID-19. While some people joke the preserved and sweetened fruit snack can help ward off the novel coronavirus, many are taking succor from good feelings associated with the treat.
Netizens are calling the fruit "the healing magic medicine" and the Chinese people, who are exploring ways to fight the virus, are recommending it for "good health and strong immunity", along with regular COVID-19 medicines.
Rich in vitamin C, canned peaches also have a longer shelf life, which makes them a coveted item at both offline and online stores. The debate over the preserved fruit's actual benefits against the disease notwithstanding, some netizens have even suggested that canned yellow peaches be covered under medical insurance.
"I am prepared, but I still need my canned yellow peaches," a social media user said in a post, displaying his entire stock of COVID-19 medicines.
On some online shopping platforms, the demand for canned yellow peaches is rising so sharply that they are frequently labeled "out of stock".
In Linyi, Shandong province, which produces one-third of canned peaches sold in China, dozens of enterprises are working overtime to satisfy customers. "The demand has been soaring in recent days," said Wu Zheng, general manager of canning operations for an enterprise in Linyi.
The production lines of the enterprise are running at full tilt, Wu said. Nobody seems to be able to pinpoint the right reason for the craze, Wu added.
One theory holds that canned yellow peaches are a comfort food and, for many, are associated with fond childhood memories. They may have gradually been elevated to the status of a folk remedy, especially in the northeast.
The curative benefits of peaches were met with skepticism by southerners until northerners started coming forward to "prove "that it was "a good treatment "when they were children.
In the 1970s and 1980s, fresh fruits were rare in the north because of cold weather, and canned varieties became a precious commodity. When visiting relatives and friends, people often brought canned fruits as a gift.
Children at that time were lucky to get a can of peaches for birthdays, holidays or when they got sick. When a child had fever, a doting parent would open a can of sweetened fruits to improve the child's appetite — and to help reduce the bitterness of some medicines. With time, canned yellow peaches became a comfort food for many.
Another theory behind the demand for canned peaches is that the word "peach" sounds similar to a word that means "escape" in Chinese, and many associate it with "escaping an illness".
China has been in the business of canned fruits, including yellow peaches, since the 1960s. Enterprises currently use automated production lines to increase volume and guarantee quality.
Canned fruits produced in Linyi are sold in more than 40 countries and regions, including the United States, Germany, Russia, Japan and New Zealand. And that's just peachy for the economy.