In November, Hongkongers were sent into panic-buying mode amid fears that Valley Chef chicken franks — a staple in Hongkongers’ breakfasts, hotpots, barbecues, and afternoon teas — could vanish.
But, following what may well have been divine intervention, sausage fans can put their fears to rest: Valley Chef is coming back.
The California-based company that makes the sausages, Zacky Farms, filed for bankruptcy protection in early November, causing many Hongkongers to launch into a buying frenzy, and packs of the sausages even appeared online selling for hundreds of Hong Kong dollars. Meanwhile, stocks on grocery store shelves dwindled precipitously, leading many to believe the good times were well and truly over.
But netizens are now rejoicing after Dah Chong Hong Holdings Ltd., the company that distributes the sausages, posted on Facebook yesterday to say that the SAR’s favorite franks will be back soon.
非常感謝一眾粉絲對廚師腸嘅熱愛同支持。我地嘅團隊，經過多個星期嘅努力 , 終於可以同大家預告：廚師腸好快就會返嚟啦! 我哋繼續以原來嘅獨家配方，美國製造，保留大家喜愛嘅味道！我地嚟緊會陸續發佈廚師腸的最新情況，各位粉絲記得密切留意我哋嘅 Valley Chef Facebook Fan Page 喇!
The post thanked people for their love and support, and said that the company will take the original recipe from Zacky Farms and begin producing the sausages itself in the US.
Dah Chong Hong distributes motor, food, and consumer products. It’s listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and is a majority-owned subsidiary of the Hong Kong conglomerate CITIC Ltd.
While netizens rejoiced that their favorite sausage have been saved, some sharp-eyed observers claimed that a fortune stick drawn by a pro-Beijing lawmaker last week predicted that the chicken franks would be saved.
Kenneth Lau Ip-keung is the chairman of the Heung Yee Kuk, a powerful organisation that represents the interests of rural villages and towns in Hong Kong. One of his duties as the chair is to officiate the fortune stick drawing event at Che Kung Temple in Sha Tin.
Also known as “kau cim,” fortune stick drawing is a fortune-telling practice in which the participant kneels in front of an altar at a temple, and shakes with both hands a bamboo cup containing 96 bamboo sticks until one falls out. Each bamboo stick is numbered, and corresponds with an omen, usually as four lines of text in the form of a poem. Here’s Lau demonstrating how it’s done.
According to the SCMP, the poem that Lau drew roughly translates as:
One was happy to get a rocky field for business, and drew a bun, but it was not fragrant.
Who knew the field was not cultivable, and the bun would not fill your stomach?
Be prudent when out and about, as there is inauspiciousness for the family.
There is personal peace, but no success in gaining wealth.
Though the prophecy seemed like a bit of a downer — the bun’s not fragrant! — the SCMP reports that Lau tried to put a positive (and decidedly establishmentarian) spin on it. “It means Hong Kong has a good foundation … but we need the public’s support for the government’s policies,” he said, adding that people should avoid conflict.
While the lines of the poem are read from top to bottom starting from the right, netizens have noticed that the last characters of each of the four lines, when read from right to left, read: “many sausages.”
“The prophecy has been fulfilled!” said one netizen, commenting on online message board HKGolden.
Some chimed in to say “well done Che Kung Temple,” while others said, “I’m going to go to Che Kung Temple more often.”
Another said: “I’m going to bring some Valley Chef chicken franks as offerings to the gods the next time I go.”
One even mused that the fortune stick probably wasn’t just talking about the Valley Chef chicken franks (wink wink, nudge nudge): “If any Hong Kong girls want a boyfriend, all they have to do is go to Che Kung Temple,” they said.