#culture /dining


Opinion: The New York Times Discovers Boba

Aug 18, 2017

The New York Times Boba Article (from the New York Times)

Dear New York Times, welcome to the 1990’s. Pogs are all the rage, Tupac and Biggie just died and Justin Bieber was just born. Also, this gross-looking, secret, exotic, oriental drink known as boba (or pearl drinks, or bubble tea depending on where you’re from) is starting to make its way into America (white nationalists beware). Gross…but perhaps delicious? Clearly only The New York Times, the arbiters of all things lit AF, can help us explain this Eastern concoction to us.

Oh wait, It’s 2017! I apologise, I thought your article The Blobs in Your Tea? They’re Supposed to Be There was a relic from my youth, but apparently, I was wrong. According to author Joanne Kaufman, boba is “relatively new” to the US. And what’s this? “Boba-ista[s]” prepare your drink? Thank you, you’ve saved that person behind the counter from a lifetime of shame. Now they can take part in annual boba-ista competitions, with boba-ista prizes.

“Complicated beverage trends have to begin somewhere.” Yes, I totally agree. Boba took root in America in the 90’s and took off in the 2000’s. “The curious amalgam became a hit in Taiwan and was subsequently embraced throughout the Far East.” At least you have your history straight. Good on you for mentioning that country, Far Eastistan. What language do they speak again?

Bubble tea isn’t an American trend though. In the article, Peter F. Goggi, the president of the Tea Association of the U.S.A. said, “In order for a trend to latch on, you have to be able to get it anywhere, not just in small tea shops.” Clearly Mr. Goggi hasn’t been to California. Ask people there if they know boba, and you’ll hear a completely different story.

Sarcasm aside. It's honestly great that the NY Times is covering boba. But come on, how could you not see how blatantly wrong it was to print this headline and those words? Are there no Asian editors on staff? Just because Asians don’t comprise a large percentage of Americans doesn’t mean it’s OK to take advantage of their food or pretend you’re the judge of their culture.

This chart from the Intersectional Analyst (intersectionalanalyst.com) sums it up

This is 2017 and Asians have shaped the landscape of America since the 1800’s. I’m glad the NY Times wrote this piece and happy that they’ve since issued an apology, but It’s disheartening to know that these things still get overlooked. 

This article reflects the views and opinions of the author and does not necessarily represent the views of #legend. The NYT has since replaced the original article, but there is a saved copy here: Original NYT boba article

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Kevin Ung