US-based media site, Tastemade – a website that focuses on food-related content – has ruffled feathers after it called dried cuttlefish Singapore’s “weird gum alternative” in a recent video.
Making the assumption that Singaporeans like to chew on dried cuttlefish since the Government banned chewing gum in 1992, the 45-second video shot in Singapore’s Chinatown calls the local snack a “weird gum alternative that won’t freshen your breath” before saying that the snack is a “creative” way Singaporeans have invented to get around the chewing gum ban.
As the host of the video tastes the snack, captions on the screen warns viewers that “there is no getting rid of the fishy flavor” but that they can consume a mint after eating dried cuttlefish. The video has accumulated nearly half a million views on Facebook:
There is something fishy about this gum alternative…
Posted by Tastemade Travel on Thursday, June 6, 2019
The video, however, quickly drew flak for having no idea about the culture and cuisine in Asia from Singaporeans who were upset with the media company’s incorrect assumptions.
In response to the criticism, Tastemade noted that Singaporean cuttlefish manufacturing company, Ken-Ken Food, had previously used the term “Chewing gum of the Orientals” as part of its marketing campaign.
While Ken-Ken Food does still market its dried cuttlefish snack as “chewing gum of the Orientals,” it is curious that Tastemade did not properly fact-check the information it planned to broadcast before publishing the video.
One netizen responding to Tastemade’s response said: “Yeah, the line “chewing gum of the Orientals” is real, but that’s a marketing phrase, not a true reflection of local culture. KFC Singapore uses the line “Finger Lickin’ Good”. Does that mean “Singaporeans lick fingers while eating as part of their culture”?”
Another netizen responded: “Yeah, it’s absolutely lazy “journalism”. They probably came for a stopover and shot something with absolutely zero research or local input, saw the package, and ran with the marketing phrase.”
Tastemade has, however, promised to improve future content. It assured netizens that it would be “extra mindful of how they deliver this kind of information, and shine a light on all the amazing food and culture that comes out of Southeast Asia.”