Businesses cash in on ‘Tharmania’ with pineapple offerings after presidential election
Popular bakery chain SunnyHills usually sells about 300 boxes of pineapple mooncakes daily but sales have more than tripled after President-elect Tharman Shanmugaratnam’s landslide win at the polls last week.
The bakery sold more than 1,000 boxes last Saturday. As for its well-known pineapple cakes, sales jumped by 30 per cent during the presidential campaign.
SunnyHills general manager Damian Lee said:“We were caught by surprise and were out of stock of our pineapple mooncakes within two days. In the past few days, our staff had to clock in more hours to manage the demand.”
The bakery - with branches in Raffles Hotel and Ngee Ann City - only managed to restock its supply of pineapple mooncakes on Wednesday, Mr Lee said.
A box of six mooncakes cost $61.30 each at the bakery while pineapple cakes are priced at $16.10 for five pieces.
Mr Tharman, who will be sworn in as Singapore’s ninth president on Sept 14, adopted the pineapple as his campaign symbol, and was often presented with pineapples and greeted with chants of “ong lai” and “huat ah” during the hustings.
Ong lai means pineapple in Hokkien, and the fruit is seen as a symbol of prosperity and good fortune.
In the wake of Mr Tharman’s victory, businesses have been inspired to find creative ways to feature the humble pineapple in their products, leading to online commentators dubbing the phenomenon “Tharmania”.
For instance, Indian eatery Semma Bistro in Springside Walk in Nee Soon is offering a pineapple ong lai cocktail to mark Mr Tharman’s win. The drink will be available until the end of the month.
Every night, the bistro has been selling between ten and 15 glasses of the $24 cocktail - a blend of pineapple, gin and rum, said bistro owner Stan Ganesh, 41.
He said: “We used to make cocktails for the Trump-Kim summit, which were a hit with the customers. I thought: ‘How much further can we spice things up at an Indian restaurant?’
“We wanted to have some fun and jump on the election fever by creating our own cocktail.”
More than 20 pieces were sold by Thursday after the 51-year-old posted a photo of her creation on social media on Saturday. Each jelly usually costs about $88.
Mr Benny Foo, co-founder of fruit hamper business The First Fruits, said: “When our team first heard that Tharman’s campaign symbol was a pineapple, we immediately burst out laughing.
“As a fruit hamper business, our team couldn’t pass on this opportunity to celebrate the occasion with a pineapple!”
Hundreds of supporters gathered at Taman Jurong Market and Food Centre to greet the couple with pineapples in hand and raucous chants of “ong lai” and “huat ah”.
Hawker Yuki Su, 45, who runs a congee stall at the centre, said: “Business was so good on the two days Tharman came to the food centre. The hawkers are hoping he can return and introduce Taman Jurong’s food to the rest of Singapore.”