Racism And The Growth of Chinese Restaurants in Early 1900s?

Posted by John Jung on Sunday, July 16, 2017 In : Chinese restaurants 
 In 1882, the U.S. passed the Chinese Exclusion Act and other laws that barred Chinese laborers from immigrating or becoming U.S. citizen. 

MIT legal historian 
Heather Lee discovered an important exception to these laws: Some
Chinese business owners in the U.S. could get special merchant visas that allowed them to travel to China, and bring back employees. Only a few types of businesses qualified for this status. In 1915, a federal court added restaurants to that list, leading to a Chinese rest...

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What's In A Name?

Posted by John Jung on Thursday, April 14, 2016 In : Chinese restaurants 
How do Chinese choose names for restaurants?  Although they change over time most of them seem to consist of a limited combination of a few terms.  Thus, Golden, Silver, Jade, Imperial, Panda, China, Hong Kong might be combined with terms like Palace, Dragon, House, City, Wok.

One empirical study by Frank Shyong and David Chan based on close to 7,000 restaurant names gathered from several decades confirmed this impression as they found a high repetitiveness of Chinese restaurant names.

Why?  Th...

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Origin of the Chinese Restaurant Container for Leftovers?

Posted by John Jung on Saturday, February 13, 2016 In : Chinese restaurants 
Although it is rapidly being replaced by boring plain styrofoam or other plasticky rectangular boxes, for many years Chinese restaurants provided a distinctive trapezoidal-shaped paper 'pail' for patrons to take leftover food home.
 

What were the origins of this iconic object that characterized Chinese restaurants, second only to the fortune cookie?  I stumbled upon the following explanation.  In 1894 Frederick Weeks Wilcox patented containers he created by folding a single sheet of paper to ...

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Joy Young Restaurant, Augusta, Georgia

Posted by John Jung on Wednesday, November 4, 2015 In : Chinese restaurants 


There were few Chinese restaurants in the American South until the last half of the past century.  Most Chinese in the region operated laundries and small grocery stores.   There were not enough Chinese in most cities to support a Chinese restaurant. Moreover, Chinese immigrants did not dine out at restaurants of any type but did their own cooking at home. Finally, Chinese food was initially disparaged by many nonChinese who were unacquainted with Chinese foods, and some feared that Chinese a...
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The Sun Is Setting on Mom and Pop Chinese restaurants

Posted by John Jung on Thursday, September 17, 2015 In : Chinese restaurants 


Mom and pop family-run Chinese restaurants across Canada, as elsewhere, are fast vanishing from the landscape and often replaced by larger and trendier partnered or chain eateries. My friend Connie Tsang, a Chinese Canadian photographer grew up in the Sunshine Restaurant of her immigrant parents in rural Ontario. She became galvanized to record the stories and images of these once ubiquitous eateries when her parents closed their restaurant a few years ago. She gave me permission to include i...
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The Sour Side of Chinese Restaurants

Posted by John Jung on Friday, August 21, 2015 In : restaurant workers 

A Chinese restaurant is not the easiest way to earn a living.  Patrons enjoy their meals, but know little about the difficult and demanding work over long hours each day that restaurant owners and workers endure.

The Sour Side of Chinese Restaurants is an article I published in Chinese American Forum to provide an overview of these aspects of this business based on news articles, oral histories, and research studies.  Here are several examples of the 'sour side' of runn...


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The Chop Suey Mystique

Posted by John Jung on Monday, December 1, 2014 In : Chinese food 
Chop Suey: Its Rise and Fall

In 1898, China Viceroy Li Huang Chang came to the U. S. on a diplomatic mission.  In New York and Philadelphia  he was feted and  large crowds welcomed him like a conquering hero.  It was during this trip that the story that one evening the diplomat wanted Chinese food instead of the typical American banquet fare.  Legend has it that a Chinese chef had to improvise since he was given short notice so he could only toss together left over vegetable cuttings from the ...

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About Me


John Jung After retiring from a 40-year career as a psychology professor, I published 4 books about Chinese immigrants that detail the history of their laundries, grocery stores, and family restaurants in the U. S. and Canada.
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