My favorite part of the Wall Street Journal is the A-Hed, the story that appears every day in the bottom center of the front page. Ranging from the silly to the serious, and from the quirky to the downright bizarre, the A-Hed gives free rein to the reporters’ imagination.
Everyone who works at the Journal is free to write an A-Hed if they think they have found the right kind of story. From what I’ve heard, for a journalist, it’s the most prized piece of real estate in the paper.
Originally developed in 1941 to give harried business readers a diversion from the day’s business and economic news, the A-Hed has evolved into a symbol of American feature writing, judged by readers as their favorite part of the paper. It is certainly my favorite part of the paper, and has been a source for many of my blog posts, including today’s post.
Today’s A-Hed was about Xiaoman, a Chinese toddler who has become an internet sensation in China because of her eating habits.
I’ve written before about Mukbang, a social eating craze in South Korea in which people pay to watch online videos of other people eating. Well apparently watching such videos is big in China as well.
An eating channel launched in China last year by Meipai, an app that hosts Xiaoman’s videos, has received more than 12 billion views. A video posted last month of Xiaoman biting off tender morsels of yellow durian, an Asian fruit with a pungent smell that makes many people recoil, has piled up more than 2.8 million views.
Xiaoman eats methodically with a spoon and fork, sometimes her fingers, and sometimes she just picks up her bowl and the food slides into her mouth. She leaves nothing behind.
As China’s fascination with Xiaoman has grown, so have her opportunities. She recently had a starring role in an online advertisement in China for Pampers diapers, made by U.S. company Procter & Gamble Co. , and has been a guest on popular Chinese variety-TV shows.
Her mom started posting the eating videos a year ago to simply document her daughter’s life and says she isn’t seeking to profit from her toddler daughter’s fame. Besides, the way online fame comes and goes, “I don’t think she’s going to be famous for long,” the mom says.
As I noted in my post about Mukbang, I don’t get the fascination with these eating videos. Yes, it was fun to watch the video of Xiaoman, but that probably had more to do with the fact that she is a cute kid, than with the fact that she is eating. One such video is enough for me.
But speaking of cute kid videos, here’s a classic from Ellen:
I wish Xiaoman and her family the best, but I’d much rather watch videos of kid inventors any time.
Now there’s an A-Hed story.