KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 28 — Gifting (and eating) mooncakes is all a part of celebrating the Mid-Autumn festival. Nowadays the emphasis seems to be on looks when it comes to selecting mooncakes as gifts.
UNBOX by Huff and Puff — a new player to the customised gifts market — hopes to create a difference by reimagining traditional handmade mooncakes with clever, creative packaging.
"We didn't want to be just another pretty thing lacking in substance. We wanted consumers to recognise us as a unique brand with amazing designs who will not compromise on the quality of the product. In short: It's pretty inside and out," explained Huff and Puff Account Director Clarise Ching.
UNBOX chose to work with Ipoh's Ching Han Guan (CHG), rather than a mass manufacturer since hand-crafted mooncakes in a traditional style are a rarity nowadays.
Ching added, "CHG stood out immediately as they are so well known for their traditional handmade pastries since 1949. They're also one of the very few artisan bakers who stay true to century old, handed down recipes through generations while constantly innovating to suit modern tastes and keep their products relevant to the younger generation."
There's also a family tie involved; one of Huff and Puff's team members is the granddaughter of CHG's founder, Ching Peng Han.
UNBOX also revealed a little known fact about CHG: in 1994, world renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking visited their Ipoh outlet as his late nurse was part of the Ching family.
Previously CHG was only available in Ipoh, where one needed to queue to get their hands on their coveted mooncakes. Even though they have recently gone online, CHG's mooncakes are only available within the Klang Valley through UNBOX.
"With this collaboration, UNBOX brings a taste of Ipoh’s tradition to our consumers within the Klang Valley without having to travel. The icing on the cake is to have an attractive limited edition design that consumers would want as a keepsake for themselves and to gift their family and friends with," said Ching.
You can select from a choice of three different sets, where each set is a different design with its own story to tell. The Can-Teen set has four flavours of CHG mooncakes such as BBQ meat with salted egg yolk, pandan lotus, red bean paste and walnuts, while the Tapao-Me-Home! and Steaming with Happiness sets contain three flavours of CHG mooncakes which are BBQ meat with salted egg yolk, pandan lotus and red bean paste.
The Can-Teen's design is all about being fun with vibrant, coloured tin cans filled with mooncakes. This, Ching tells us, was inspired by fond memories of school days where they would spend their pocket money at vending machines during recess.
There's also a twist to these cans. "Cheekily, we were also guilty of stocking up too much canned food during the MCO period. We wanted to surprise consumers when they peel off the tin can, they can find a delicious mooncake and not tuna," said Ching.
Each design carries a piece of the team's memories. For instance, the tiffin carriers for Tapao-Me Home! was inspired by that daily office dilemma about where to pack food or 'tapao' for lunch.
Adorning these carriers are hand-drawn illustrations inspired by pre-war shop houses in Ipoh since CHG was founded back in 1949. The outer packaging is said to resemble a traditional medicinal ointment box.
"Our team remembers grew up with our parents rubbing all sorts of traditional ointments on our bellies every time we were unwell," said Ching.
The third design is Steaming With Happiness — a nod towards yum cha gatherings with the family — with dim sum steamers. "In our description in Chinese characters, this set also represents 'a strong aroma from the basket', as the highlight of our unique presentation lies in the real treasure... a piece of fine handmade mooncake," said Ching.
All the sets are also multi-use as the tin cans and tiffin carrier can be reused to store knick knacks or even jewellery. Even the dim sum steamers can be used for cooking.
The people behind Huff and Puff are veterans in the events and marketing industry with 20 years of experience. With the Covid-19 pandemic bringing a halt to marketing activities, their business pivoted to start UNBOX which focuses on unique gifts for special occasions.
Both brands are built on the principles, as Ching explained, '"of bringing oodles of ideas, passion and experience to any occasion."
"With a limited platform for brands to stay connected to clients, we received a lot of requests to customise curated gift sets to be delivered to their clients' homes," explained Ching. The demand for unique gifts and the excess time, was what helped start UNBOX or what Ching calls their "MCO baby."
What resonated personally for Huff and Puff was their own appreciation for receiving gifts that were not store bought with a personalised element. This was incorporated into UNBOX where each item has an engraved tag with the recipient's name.
Work for UNBOX commenced sometime mid May with the original idea of targeting Raya for their launch. Since it was too short a time, the team focused their energies on Mid Autumn festival when they launched this collection on August 12.
"We had about two and half months to create a brand from scratch, an online platform and market it while designing our first collection and scout for a potential partner," said Ching.
Limited quantities for the mooncake collection are available for orders that can be made via their website. There is a choice of self collection from UNBOX's office between Tuesday to Thursday.
If you prefer, they can deliver to your doorstep for an extra fee (minimal charge is RM20 within the Klang Valley). For those living in Ipoh, there is an option to self collect from CHG directly. However this usually takes two working weeks from the order placement.
Usually, orders are fulfilled three to seven week days depending on whether it is self collection or delivery options.
UNBOX by Huff and Puff. Website: https://www.unboxbyhuffandpuff.com.my/