[Illustrations] An Ode to Sữa Ông Thọ and the Games of Our Saigon Childhood

Art & Culture

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To evaluate how essential condensed milk is in Vietnamese tradition, think of cà phê sữa đá, Vietnam’s nationwide drink that wouldn’t exist with no dollop of Sữa Ông Thọ (Mr. Longevity milk).

With just a brief visit to your road corner coffee cart, you possibly can in all probability spot it in the form of a metallic can coated by white paper packaging. Its illustration depicts a cherubic previous man, Ông Thọ, and two younger youngsters cradling an enormous pinkish peach. He’s one of many trio of family guardians in Chinese language, and subsequently, Vietnamese, people culture that goes by the identify sanxing (三星).

The deities — Phuc (Fu), Loc (Lu) and Tho (Shou) — are believed to control native life, looking after a household’s prosperity, status and longevity, respectively. Despite the reference to Chinese culture, Sữa Ông Thọ was first produced by Foremost, a brand of Dutch multi-national firm Friesland Foods, previous to 1975.

After that, the company’s belongings and factories have been collectivized after which distributed to national milk firm Vinamilk, which has been producing condensed milk with the identify Ông Thọ ever since. In right now’s Vietnam, newcomer Dutch Woman additionally produces condensed milk, but Ông Thọ nonetheless possesses nationwide recognition out there, along with Ngôi Sao Phuong Nam, a less expensive condensed milk various additionally by Vinamilk.

The trailer for the Sữa Ông Thọ venture. Video by way of YouTube consumer Vy Mai.

Sữa Ông Thọ’s longevity echoes its namesake, having existed in Vietnam on and off for 45 years. Cans of Ông Thọ are so well-liked as a result of all points of the can attraction to a unique a part of the Vietnamese household. Condensed milk in cà phê sữa đá is loved by older members while those that prepare dinner use it to make yogurt or ice cream. In the years following đổi mới, when jams and peanut butter have been prized rarities, families broke out their trusty can of condensed milk to eat with recent bánh mì for breakfast. Final but not least, as soon as the milk is used up, the metallic can itself is reworked by local youngsters into toys and even lanterns.

Rising up having witnessed all these alternative ways Sữa Ông Thọ has entered family life in Vietnam, a gaggle of young creatives from the Ho Chi Minh City University of Structure have decided to honor the model’s 45th anniversary with an illustration venture, with a give attention to the can’s immense potential for entertainment in the eyes of native youngsters.

Have a peek at how Vietnamese youngsters repurpose these cans into artistic handmade toys during occasions of hardship:

Spinning lanterns are made by connecting two empty cans utilizing a metallic rod. Then, poke holes within the prime and bottom elements of the spinning can. When a small candle is lit inside, the light escaping the holes creates a mesmerizing impact. Some also add pebbles inside to create noise when the lantern is rolled round city.

Tạt Lon: A simple recreation consisting of different players competing to knock a standing can off utilizing only their slippers.

Telephone: Two cans are related with a string to imitate a telephone. Gamers try to communicate across a distance.

[Illustrations and video by way of Behance]

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