Earlier this month, a sign in an Italian supermarket randomly went viral on Chinese social media. It read: “Please stop knocking on the watermelons, they will not respond to it!!!”
While the sign was written in Italian and doesn’t appear to have targeted at Chinese in particular, a popular post on Weibo by one media outlet asked readers how they would respond to the supermarket that made such a sign targeting Chinese customers. The post attracted many amusing responses, including: “You don’t understand the Chinese art of chatting with watermelons.” “We are here to awaken the watermelon.” “Knocking on a melon before buying it is an act of basic respect. “
In China, knocking on watermelons is a common method used in picking the best one, with a hollow sound signifying ripeness. One netizen attempted to explain the sign: “Foreigners might have tried to learn watermelon-knocking from the Chinese, but exerted too much force and smashed one.”
A children’s homework booklet instructs students on how to “listen” to watermelons.
This post also sparked a debate on whether the sign was targeting Chinese buyers and whether foreigners use the same practice to determine a watermelon’s ripeness. A BBC article reports that watermelon-knocking is actually practiced in other countries as well, so the Chinese media was wrong to assume that the sign was targeted at Chinese. A quick search on YouTube can also confirm this.
By Amy Yang
[Images via Weibo // h/t What’s on Weibo]