Your Favorite Foods with a Chinese Twist

Do palates differ around the world?

CBS News correspondent Celia Hatton reported it appears so. She said on "The Early Show" Tuesday your favorite foods might have an unexpected twist in a land far away.

Grocery stores in China, for example, might surprise American shoppers. Blueberry-flavored potato chips, strawberry and milk-flavored Cheetos and aloe juice from Minute Maid are the norm.


Because, Hatton reported, every major U.S. food label, it seems, is trying to bite into China's $186 billion fast food and processed food industries by creating new products made just for Chinese taste buds.

Hatton said grocery stores in Beijing are packed with labels that look familiar, but feature flavors that definitely aren't, such as Tropicana cantaloupe juice, orange-flavored Chips Ahoy cookies, and Chinese herbal medicine Wrigley's gum.

But, she said, it's Frito-Lay potato chips that really push the boundaries.

Taste tests, Hatton reported, revealed Chinese people didn't like popular American flavors like sour cream and onion. So, to reach their audience, researchers developed new flavors inspired by traditional Chinese food, such as savory Sichuan spicy, sweet and sour tomato and sugary options like cucumber, lychee and mango.

Harry Hui, of Pepsico, said, "The market is extremely competitive, so there are many new products that are being launched regularly."

Popular American fast food chains are also getting in on the game. McDonald's has a purple taro pie. Starbucks offers coffee drinks with jelly cubes in the bottom. And KFC goes even farther by offering spicy squid on a stick.

Even the toothpaste companies, Hatton said, can't afford to ignore the flavor game, pointing out lotus flower Crest and salty Colgate.

These products may seem wacky in the US, but she said there's serious pressure to be the object of Chinese cravings.

Shaun Rein, managing director of China Market Research Group, said China is going to be the second-largest or largest consumer market in the world in the next five years.

He said, "If American companies don't figure out how to get it right in China, they'll be missing out on what should be their major generator for growth."