12 bizarre and innovative ways food companies are making mooncakes, the Chinese delicacy eaten to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival

Starbucks Hong Kong's Black Tea Earl Grey Mochi Mooncake, created in 2019.

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Starbucks Hong Kong’s Black Tea Earl Grey Mochi Mooncake, created in 2019.
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Starbucks Hong Kong/Facebook

  • September 13 marks the annual Mid-Autumn Festival, widely celebrated by people of Chinese and Vietnamese descent.
  • Families typically reunite on this day with a meal and the sharing of a mooncake, a doughy dessert with an ornate pattern printed on top that’s been eaten since as long ago as the 14th century.
  • Food companies have been innovating the mooncake in recent years, with creations ranging from cakes filled with spicy KFC chicken to those covered in 24-carat gold.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

In 2019, September 13 marks the annual Mid-Autumn Festival, a holiday celebrating the advent of a full moon most popularly celebrated within Chinese and Vietnamese cultures.

The festival is typically held on the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar, which falls on different days of the Gregorian calendar every year.

Families typically get together to celebrate the event outdoors – so they can see the full moon – with lanterns and mooncakes, a round, doughy dessert with an ornate pattern printed on top.

Mooncakes have been a delicacy since as long ago as the 14th century, and are traditionally filled with lotus paste and egg yolk. But pastry chefs have become increasingly innovative, making the cakes with ingredients from spicy chicken to 24-carat gold.

Take a look at some of wacky new iterations of the traditional delicacy:


Here’s what a traditional mooncake looks like. Even though you can fit one into the palm of your hand, the dessert is so dense that it’s typically cut up and shared around.

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A baker inspects a mooncake in Xian, China, in September 2001.
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Reuters

The round shape of the mooncake symbolizes unity and family reunion in Chinese culture, and is typically cut into pieces for families to share. Chinese bakeries have in recent years created massive mooncakes for more people to share.

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Local residents cut into a giant mooncake at a shopping mall in Chengdu, China, in September 2002.
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Reuters

Hong Kong lifestyle brand Goods of Desire (GOD), known for its tongue-in-cheek products, created these butt-shaped mooncakes in 2013.

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Butt-shaped mooncakes sold by Hong Kong lifestyle brand Goods of Desire as seen in Singapore on September 10, 2013.
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Edgar Su/Reuters

This year KFC in Hong Kong made a bizarre “Spicy Chicken & Nuts” mooncake featuring nuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, peaches and spicy chicken floss, to be transported around in a KFC bucket that lights up and doubles up as a lantern.

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KFC’s Spicy Chicken & Nuts mooncake.
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KFC

Read more: KFC in Hong Kong is selling a spicy chicken-flavored mooncake that comes in a bucket that doubles as a lantern


KFC also made this Golden Lava Custard mooncake, which is made with salted egg yolk. While this ingredient is fairly traditional, mooncake fillings are typically fairly solid, unlike this runny one.

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KFC Hong Kong’s Golden Lava Custard mooncake, with a salted egg yolk filling.
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KFC

Source: Hypebae


The Asian franchise of Haagen Dazs has also made ice cream mooncakes, replacing the food’s doughy exterior with a hard chocolate shell instead.

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Haagen Dazs

The photo above shows the “deluxe” ice cream mooncake from Haagen Dazs, with mango ice cream inside.

Other iterations of the ice cream mooncake are made with mochi, cookies & cream, green tea ice cream, and other flavors.

The shell is printed with a rabbit on top – an homage to the popular Chinese myth on the Mid-Autumn Festival’s origins, which involves a rabbit sacrificing itself to feed three gods who were pretending to be beggars.


Oreo also made its own version of a mooncake this year. It appears to have Oreo’s trademark coating with chocolate inside.

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Screenshots of a video showing Oreo’s chocolate-flavored mooncake, as debuted in Saigon.
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Sophie Tran/Facebook

Oreo debuted two mooncake flavors in Vietnam earlier this month, according to one Facebook user, who posted videos of them from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

“When you’re Americanized af but you still want to have moon cake,” Sophie Tran wrote in a caption to her video.

The chocolate-flavored mooncake was “very sweet,” Tran said in comments under her video. The other flavor appears to be strawberry.


This year, a bakery in Hong Kong made mooncakes with messages showing solidarity with protests against the Chinese government in the city.

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Mooncakes with the Chinese words for “support each other” at Wah Yee Tang Bakery, Hong Kong, on July 12, 2019.
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Tyrone Siu/Reuters

Wah Yee Tang Bakery designed mooncakes with various messages – including “support each other” and “no withdrawal, no dispersal” – to show support for people demonstrating against a bill that would allow the Chinese government to extradite anyone from the city for prosecution in the mainland.

The bill has sparked months of large-scale protests that have at times descended into violence between demonstrators and police.

The mooncakes, whose profits went to help those injured in the demonstrations, immediately sold out, the South China Morning Post reported.

People supporting the police called for boycotts of the bakery, the Post added.

Read Insider’s coverage of the Hong Kong protests here.


Starbucks created mooncakes with mocha and mochi — a glutinous Japanese rice cake — inside this year.

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Starbucks Hong Kong’s mocha mochi mooncake, created in time for Mid-Autumn Festival 2019.
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Starbucks Hong Kong/Facebook

The coffee giant also made a mochi mooncake infused with earl grey tea flavor.

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Starbucks Hong Kong’s Black Tea Earl Grey Mochi Mooncake, created in 2019.
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Starbucks Hong Kong/Facebook

Starbucks Hong Kong has debuted some wildly innovative creations lately, such as an iced matcha latte with tofu pudding.


A Singaporean bakery created mooncakes with durian, the pungent fruit loved and hated across Asia, inside.

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Golden Moments

Singaporean bakery Golden Moments made a mooncake with a bamboo charcoal skin dusted with 24k gold dust, and stuffed with durian puree.

A box of three cost about 39 Singaporean dollars, or $28. The gilded mooncakes sold out online rapidly.


Companies have also created dog-friendly mooncakes for family pets. The green mooncake here, created by Hong Kong bakery The Cakery in 2019, contains organic carrots, spirulina, and honey.

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The Cakery

And if that’s not bizarre enough for you, take a look at Filipino chef Angelia Araneta Jr.’s mooncake, covered with 24 carat gold, artificial diamonds, and of course, a cherry on top.

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Cheryl Ravelo/Reuters

This mooncake, which was debuted in September 2010, cost 80,500 pesos ($1,550).