Chinese Elementary students make rose flavored moon cakes in Yunnan, China.


Why are these children working in a factory in China? Shouldn’t they be in school? Well, they are.

It was our elementary field trip to a moon cake factory in Yunnan, outside of Kunming.

Now if this were my hometown in Southwestern Michigan, the field trip would be to the Kellogg’s factory in Battle Creek where kids would take in the smell of burning corn before making crafts out of Froot Loops. But in China? A special section of the factory was reserved for our students to make moon cakes.

What are Moon cakes?

Moon cakes are Chinese a holiday favorite, like fruitcake, a tradition to bring to guests during the Fall Festival, even if you re-gift them the next year. I happen to LOVE them–especially the flavor we made that day, rose. The purplish goop is made up of crushed flower pedals and sugar, being a colorful version of almond paste with the texture of creamed spinach. The crust was as flaky as a blue ribbon winner at a State Fair. Yes, it was like eating a Renuzit sandwich.

The factory produces about fifty thousand moon cakes each day.

But this new employee? Maybe four.

The students put on the required work garb, the smallest size still too large for eight year-olds.

When they flapped their arms, the kids looked like red and white penguins.

While the factory tour might be different than what kids experience in the States, the bus ride was the same. Kids started inhaling their afternoon snacks at 9 am, their backpacks overloaded with enough seaweed chips, shrimp crisps, tomato flavored Pringles to survive a trip to the moon.

And if you thought a bus load of Doritos smelled bad.

I think about how this moon-cake adventure never could’ve happened in the States due to regulations. Then I thought of what a great learning experience it was, kids experiencing the monotony of manual labor. Sometimes, if you want kids to reach for the stars, you got to start with the moon, or at least a moon cake.


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