Baby-shaped Pears Add Human Element To Chinese Supermarket's Produce Section
Baby-shaped pears or a pair of babies... why not both! Chinese fruit farmers are using molds to produce cute but creepy pears that look just like babies: peaceful, serene, closed-eyed visages and all.
The baby-shaped pears seem to be a variation on the so-called “Buddha Pears” that began to pop up in 2009. Grown individually inside transparent plastic molds that force the expanding fruit to conform to a preset design, the Buddha Pears displayed a subdued, stylized appearance highlighted by praying hands.
The baby-shaped pears are very similar except for their faces, which have been made to look less stylized and more human-like. While undoubtedly well-intentioned, the design tweak plunges the pears into the infamous “uncanny valley” – they look just lifelike enough to arouse a sense of unease or even disgust amongst those who see them.
Flickr user Fruitmould was one of the first to photographically document these pears in late 2012 – quite a few images of both the baby-shaped pears and two types of Buddha pears (left) can be viewed at their photostream.
The baby-shaped pears' splash into pop culture came a little more recently, however, when a Chinese member of the Sina Weibo social network spied them for sale and snapped a few photos.
“I saw scary pears today at Sam's Club (supermarket),” stated the netizen, whose surname is Wang. “I felt they were interesting, so I took a photo of them and uploaded it on Sina Weibo.” Since then, the images have spread virally in China and the story has been picked up by local and national traditional media venues such as the Chinese-language Beijing Morning News.
As is often the case, scammers have quickly jumped to take advantage of what they perceive to be a lucrative income opportunity, offering saplings purported to grow baby-shaped pears online.
“It's obvious that the pears were grown in a mold to control their shape,” warns a Chinese agriculture expert, too late for buyers who bought some 2,000 saplings from one online shop over a three-month period.
“They have the same nutrition as other normal pears,” added the expert, perhaps responding to some netizens who posited the pears are meant to echo the lifespan-enhancing “ginseng fruit” mentioned in the classic Chinese novel Journey To The West.
The legendary Ginseng fruit is shaped like a young human and a single bite is said to add 47,000 years to one's life. The mass-produced molded baby-shaped pears, on the other hand, only subtract the equivalent of $3.00 (per box) from one's wallet. (via Want China Times)