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Made in Hong Kong
Photograph: Time Out Hong Kong

The 12 iconic products that are made in Hong Kong

‘Made in Hong Kong’ is a sign of quality assurance

Catharina Cheung
Edited by
Catharina Cheung
Written by
Time Out Hong Kong
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Hong Kong was once a manufacturing powerhouse with the ‘Made in Hong Kong’ stamp seen as a mark of quality around the world. While rising costs in the 1980s pushed many companies to relocate their production facilities elsewhere, some products have remained proudly made in this city. From plastic pails to cure-all pills, here are a few of our favourite locally made things.

RECOMMENDED: Be sure to check out these local cultural gems that are on the brink of disappearing, and feed your nostalgia with Hong Kong’s oldest restaurants that you should visit.

Baak faan yuu shoes

Hongkongers of a certain age will definitely remember these plain white canvas shoes colloquially called baak faan yuu (白飯魚). Because the term ‘white shoes’ (白鞋; baak haai) contains the doubly negative connotations of ‘haai’ sounding like a sigh and white being a funerary colour, these shoes were nicknamed after the noodlefish, which they are said to resemble, and quickly became the go-to footwear for school children and labourers due to its grippy rubber soles and cheap price point. Although rubber-soled canvas shoes have already been popularised in America since the early 1900s and are not a Hong Kong-specific product, they were ubiquitous in our city from the 60s to the 80s since sneakers were not easily obtainable products for locals back then.

Popular baak faan yuu brands included Double Coin, Golden Coin, Wui Lik, and Dragonfly, which were all produced in mainland China, though Hong Kong also had its own share of the market in Fung Keong, a rubber manufacturer that produced baak faan yuu out of their Shau Kei Wan factory from the 1920s to 1950. We don’t have our own local baak faan yuu brand any longer, but the Chinese brand Feiyue has become a cult favourite overseas in recent years, and you’ll find Hongkongers – especially those who play soccer – who are still strong advocates of baak faan yuu to this day.

Po Sang Yuen honey

There aren’t that many locally produced honey brands from Hong Kong, but one that most city dwellers will know from supermarket shelves is Po Sang Yuen, thanks to its highly recognisable logo of a man sporting what looks like a really long beard – look closer and you’ll see his beard is actually a swarm of bees! Located in Fanling, Po Sang Yuen is Hong Kong’s first commercial bee farm and was established a century ago in 1923. The farm produces honey from a variety of flowers and also sells honeycombs and health supplements.

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Camel vacuum flasks

Founded in 1940, Camel is a testament to the innovations of Hong Kong’s golden age of manufacturing. The brand is best known for its pioneering Model 147 – a vacuum flask that features an outer casing toughened by a horizontal groove and several vertical ridges that run down the sides. Aside from being practical, the flasks look good too, often decorated with floral patterns or bright enamel tones. Camel has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity thanks to a savvy rebranding campaign following its 75th anniversary, proving that it’s a brand that can truly weather the test of time.

Holga camera

Many might not know this but hipster image-maker the Holga was created and made Hong Kong. The plastic medium-format film camera was invented by Lee Ting-mo in the 1980s and became popular due to its affordability. Known for its ability to create artistically distorted images, the camera also found a cult following after it was picked up by Lomography. Despite its flimsy, toy-like form and functions, the Holga has manged to stay relevant throughout the years, launching a crossover with The White Stripes in 2007 – which also included a replica of another Hong Kong-made camera, the Diana – as well as a digital version in 2016.

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Lee Kung Man undershirts

Hong Kong once boasted a robust textiles manufacturing industry. While this trade has faced steady decline over the last few decades, a handful of companies still stand to remind us of Hong Kong’s gloried garment-making past. Among these is Lee Kung Man, known for its Golden Deer and Cicada brand of knitted undergarments. Although this 95-year-old company was founded in Guangdong, most of its production took place in Hong Kong, where it was worn by everyone from working-class men and women to Bruce Lee. Today, Lee Kung Man continues to make its simple but sturdy singlets and shirts from its factory in Kowloon.

Nin Jiom Pei Pai Kao

Founded in 1946, Nin Jiom is one of the most reputable Chinese medicine manufacturers in Hong Kong. The company is best known for its Pei Pa Kao, a molasses-like syrup that alleviates coughs and soothes scratchy throats. The formula dates all the way back to the Qing Dynasty but its popularity has only waxed since then and has even developed overseas (demand for the syrup skyrocketed in New York during flu season). The classic glass bottle will always be our favourite, but we also love more recent releases, such as the single-serving sachets and herbal hard candies.

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Red A plastic homeware

It’s almost impossible to spend a day in Hong Kong without encountering one of Red A’s products. A brand under Star Industrial Co, Red A (formerly Ace) became a household name when it launched its line of affordable and durable plastic pails in response to citywide droughts in the early 1960s. The brand’s portfolio has since grown to include everything from cups, sauce bottles, and water pitchers to stackable stools, crates, and even those red lampshades that hang over butcher stalls in wet markets. Red A still manufactures all its products locally at its famous factory in San Po Kong.

Red-White-Blue bags

Red, white, and blue nylon canvas is deeply woven into the fabric of this city. Originally used as tarp at farms and construction sites, the material was transformed into its now-famous carryall form by the owner of Wah Ngai Canvas in Sham Shui Po. Large, light, and surprisingly durable, these bags became popular in the 1970s with those who were looking to bring gifts to friends and families living on the mainland. The stripey design has since become a symbol of Hong Kong and has been riffed off by many brands and artists.

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Po Chai Pills

Po Chai Pills were originally created in 1896 in Foshan in Guangdong before the Communist Revolution caused production to be moved to Hong Kong, where it has proudly remained. Little has changed to the look and formula since. Packed in clear plastic tubes, the pills are made from more than 10 different Chinese medicinal ingredients and are ingested as tiny pellets, which are supposedly easier for the body to absorb than a single large tablet. Despite being more than a century old, these pills are still the go-to remedy for any Hongkonger suffering from an upset stomach, heartburn, or other unpleasant ailments.

Two Girls

Founded by Fook Tien Fung, this local beauty brand dates back to 1898 and was the first of its kind in the city during a time when there weren’t any fine cosmetics available to the Chinese community yet. Its signature product, Florida Water (no relation to the American state), is a bit of a powerhouse, claiming to kill germs, treat heatstroke, work as air freshener, and also be used as a relaxing fragrance in hot baths. To this day, Two Girls has maintained a vintage aesthetic with its cosmetic products, which harkens back to its roots.

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Bamboo steamers

The bamboo steamer is a noble thing – the vehicle in which dim sum is born over stoves and transported to tabletops. Most steamers are now mass-produced on the mainland with the exception of those made by Tuck Chong Sum Kee. Managed by its fifth-generation successor, the Sai Ying Pun store hand-assembles steamers of various sizes and remains a favourite with local restaurateurs as well as tourists looking for an authentic Hong Kong souvenir.

Watermelon ball

During the manufacturing heydays of the 1960s and 70s, Hong Kong’s factories pumped out a huge slice of the world’s toys, from robots and rubber ducks to Rubik’s cubes and Barbie dolls. These were made in Hong Kong but often exported to other countries and sold by brands such as Hasbro and Mattel. An exception was the watermelon ball, named after its resemblance to the stripey, spherical fruit. Created in 1959 by industrialist Chiang Chen, these affordable plastic balls were not only made in Hong Kong, but also played with in Hong Kong. A relic from the city’s manufacturing past, this humble toy is also a cherished childhood memory for many who grew up here.

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